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Reclaiming Community in Contemporary African American Fiction

By Philip Page

256 pp.

978-1-61703-843-3 Paper $30.00D

Paper, $30.00

An examination of how the works of five African-American writers reveal the power of communal bonds

As a reaction against persistent black exclusion from white American society, the novels of some recent African-American writers boldly celebrate the heritage of black culture. They acclaim a people once dispersed by racism and humiliation but now restoring its legacy of rich community life.
For close examination of this theme, Philip Page brings together five novelists who are in the forefront of contemporary fiction--Toni Cade Bambara, Ernest Gaines, Charles Johnson, Gloria Naylor, and John Edgar Wideman. As their voices combine for an ongoing dialogue on the importance of community in the African-American world, they articulate the problems and the potential for African-American culture and for America itself.
Page's lucid explications of seventeen of their works show these authors speaking more thoroughly and more forcefully than any other contemporary writers on the meaning of community to the lives of individuals combating forces that alienate them. Their novels discover that the complex bonds uniting and redeeming the community also empower individuals. In the achievement of the African-American community each novelist sees ways to rebuild and reshape America.
Gaining its special force through voicing national concerns and through never backing away from the truth in the face of stubborn opposition, the fiction of these five writers contributes to postmodernist debates on race, the repressed past, and the contemporary American conscience.

Philip Page is a professor of English at California State University at San Bernardino. He is the author of Dangerous Freedom: Fusion and Fragmentation in Toni Morrison's Novels (University Press of Mississippi).

256 pp.