Callaloo, one of the most influential publications on the contemporary black literary scene, provided its founder, Rowell, an English professor at the University of Virginia, the place to publish some of the finest writers in the African diaspora, from the Caribbean and the Americas to Europe. Assembling in this volume an impressive array of short fiction and poetry from the magazine's first 25 years, Rowell showcases the universality of the black aesthetic while celebrating its diverse handling of themes of sexual identity, regional conflicts, racial contradiction, political mayhem and generational issues. Much of the fiction is by well-known writers, including Ralph Ellison's notorious excerpt "Cadillac Flambé" from the oft-maligned posthumous novel, Juneteenth,
and Octavia Butler's popular tale "The Evening and the Morning and the Night." But almost all the offerings are stunningly fresh, including Samuel R. Delany's frank look at a former hustler (an excerpt from his novel Shoat Rumblin'), and a pair of tales about black womanhood by Helen Elaine Lee and Terry McMillan. Other writers featured include Maryse Condé, Gayl Jones, Edwidge Danticat, Wilson Harris, Leon Forrest, Charles Johnson and Thomas Glave. If the originality and richness of the collection's fiction makes this book an essential for collectors of black literature, then the lineup of poets—Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, Ai, Cyrus Cassells, Audre Lorde, Clarence Major, Sonia Sanchez among others—makes it doubly enticing. This memorable anthology will add considerably to the reputation of Callaloo
and its editor. (Jan.)
Forecast:The broad scope and international sweep of this collection lift it head and shoulders above many other anthologies of black literature. Its quality and distinguished provenance should make it a strong backlist title.