Sunday, February 19, 2006

I really AM 400 years behind

As an early modernist, well, I don't read so much lit written in the past 100 years or so. But in real life terms, that's no excuse to ignore my own cultural milieu (haven't you longed to get that word into a conversation, along with, say, "metathesis"?).

Mon of My So Called ABD Life has a really interesting meme up. She didn't tag me, but I'm going to do the meme anyways, not, I hope, in an appropriating way, but more as a reading list I should read more from. That and to assuage my sore head after whacking it against that stupid Roman guy all morning. And because grading 40 papers just feels too overwhelming right now.

Black Lit Meme

The Instructions:
Bold the books you've read.
*Star the titles you own or you've read more than once.*
Italicize the books plan to read.
Strike out any books you have no interest in reading.
??Use question marks to indicate titles/authors you've never heard of??

(Confession: I didn't italicize or strike out any books because I'm so far behind that I never know what's on my to read list except for early modern and crit stuff, and because I feel too ignorant to think that I should decide not to read books I don't know anything about.)

The List:
??Assata: An Autobiography--Assata Shakur
*The Autobiography of Malcolm X--Malcolm X/Alex Haley
??The Bondwoman's Narrative--Hannah Crafts/Henry Louis Gates
*The Bluest Eye--Toni Morrison
*Cane--Jean Toomer
??Cane River--Lalita Tademy
??Chasing Destiny--Eric Jerome Dickey
??The Coldest Winter Ever--Sister Souljah
*The Color Purple--Alice Walker
??Crossing the Mangrove--Maryse Conde
*Death and the King's Horseman--Wole Soyinka
??Devil in a Blue Dress--Walter Moseley
Dreams of My Father--Barack Obama
The Fire Next Time--James Baldwin
*Fences--August Wilson
??Holler If You Hear Me--Michael Eric Dyson
??Invisible Life--E. Lynn Harris
*Invisible Man--Ralph Ellison
??Joys of Motherhood--Buchi Emecheta
Jubilee--Margaret Walker
Kindred--Octavia Butler
*Krik?Krak!--Edwidge Danticat
??Life and Def--Russell Simmons
The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass--Frederick Douglass
Mama--Terry McMillan
??Manchild in the Promised Land--Claude Brown
??Measure of Our Success--Marian Wright Edelman
??Men Cry in the Dark--Michael Baisden
??The Mis-Education of the Negro--Carter G. Woodson
Native Son--Richard Wright
??Nervous Conditions--Tsitsi Dangarembga
??Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word--Randall Kennedy
Omeros--Derek A. Walcott (Large sections, and a reading by Walcott)
??On The Down Low--J. L. King
Our Nig--Harriet E. Wilson
Race Matters--Cornel West
*A Raisin in the Sun--Lorraine Hansberry
??72 Hour Hold--Bebe Moore Campbell
??Sex Chronicles--Zane
Sister Outsider--Audre Lorde
??So Long a Letter--Mariama Ba
Soul on Ice--Eldridge Cleaver
The Souls of Black Folks--W.E.B. Du Bois
??Shine--Star Jones Reynolds
??The Street--Ann Petry
*Their Eyes Were Watching God--Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart--Chinua Achebe
Thomas and Beulah--Rita Dove
Up From Slavery--Booker T. Washington
??When and Where I Enter--Paula Giddings

Doing this meme reveals a lot about my reading of Black lit: first, that I don't read much, and that what I do read is very canonical. Second, most of what I've read I've read because I read for classes, GREs or something related to teaching (which probably has to do with the overall canonicity of what I've read, and why I own most of the books I've read, since I bought them for classes or teaching).

I guess I can't put off grading forever, right?

I'm not tagging anyone, but I hope other folks will do the meme, too.


  1. Thanks for stopping by--glad u picked up the meme. This is a really mixed up list --some of it is very popular/recent work that I can't really recommend but might make for some good summer reading. If you really enjoy the canonical stuff, you should try The Street by Ann Petry (Harlem Renaissance writer) or the African novel Nervous Conditions by Dangaremba.

  2. Alice Walker's novel, Possessing The Secret of Joy is a good book and a fast read, if you want something a little more recent. The Bondwoman Narrative is great too. I see a lot on your list that I haven't read, so I need to get busy.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions, you two. I don't actually prefer canonical stuff, but have read Black lit mostly in classes, or because I was teaching it at intro levels.

    I'm actually thinking Butler might be fun for me.

    It's a cool meme, Mon, thanks!

  4. I am humbled by this little exercise, not because I haven't read some Af-Am lit in my field (I do contemporary drama), but because there's still so much else reading to do!

    Oh, but do pick up Octavia Butler. She rocks.

  5. Octavia Butler's Kindred is a must read. Percival Everett's Erasure, also a must-read. Danzy Senna's Caucasia and Symptomatic are also worth time but each has a slightly unsatisfying ending (i'm a writer, too, so way more demanding) but contemporary and great reads.