cover image A Treasury of African-American Christmas Stories

A Treasury of African-American Christmas Stories

. Henry Holt & Company, $20 (253pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-5122-3

Far from a roll call of famous quotations and annotated sentimentality, this cross section of little-known turn-of-the-century newspaper and magazine pieces reflects the holiday's particular, longstanding significance for African Americans. The pieces range from reflective Christmas poems (""The Christmas Reunion Down at Martinsville"") and a controversial cliffhanger about racism that created dissent in the Indianapolis black community when it was serialized in 1903 (""Three Men and a Woman""), to moral parables (""The Prodigal Daughter: A Story of Three Christmas Eves""). Helpful biographical sketches introduce the authors, discuss their prevailing themes and their influence on black society and culture. The all but forgotten pioneers include Pauline Hopkins, Fanny Barrier Williams, T. Thomas Fortune, Augustus M. Hodges and Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson (wife of the poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar). This substantive anthology makes a contribution both as cultural study and as literature. The design and format--12 line drawings; padded case cover; printed end papers; ribbon marker--signals the publisher's confidence that the book will find an appreciative audience. 50,000 first printing. (Nov.)