cover image Best African American Fiction: 2009

Best African American Fiction: 2009

, . . Bantam, $23 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-553-38535-9

There hasn’t been an anthology of such talented African-American literary figures since Marita Golden’s Gumbo , and the result is a masterful bouquet of literary flowers, some grand, some subtle, but none shrinking. Striking among the collection is “Cell One,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s (Half of a Yellow Sun ) cautionary tale of what happens when success and ambition outpace discipline and firm-handedness in child-rearing in Nigeria. The son of a professor and his accommodating wife, Nnamabia is titillated by thug life, and it isn’t until he’s arrested and observes the blatant disrespect toward a sick elder that he remembers the good sense his parents instilled long ago. In “This Kind of Red,” Helen Lee (Water Marked ) tells of a battered woman who copes by counting everything from crayons to the minutes she has to kill her abusive husband. Mat Johnson (Drop ) offers an excerpt from The Great Negro Plot , his novel infused with the history of slavery and indentured servitude in colonial New York. With something for every reader’s taste, this is a collection not to be missed. (Jan.)