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Library Journal Review
In a sensitively written introduction, Werner surveys various approaches to African-American women novelists, moving from the field's dominant literary critics, including Hoggins and Littlejohn, through Du Bois and Wright, to significant insights offered by writers June Jordan and Alice Walker themselves. He also considers the important critical challenges that these writers and their critics must still face. The author's stated goals are not only historical--he documents the major works of 32 novelists--but to help identify critical issues and trends and to suggest readings of contextual information to enhance students' and critics' understanding of these works. The book is divided into ``General Studies''--an annotated list of relevant books and articles--and individual listings of the novelists, which are in alphabetical order and divided into biography, commentary, and selected titles. Essential.-- Veronica Mitchell, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
There are 33 African American women novelists treated in this volume, each with annotated citations listed under the headings "Biography" and "Commentary." For most, additional listings of commentaries are keyed to "Selected Titles." Although the annotations are helpful, it is the 70-page introduction that is most impressive. It includes a historical overview of the misreading and frequent dismissal of the work of African-American women writers by literary critics, as well as an extensive, annotated list of general works "pertaining to the study of black American women novelists." The rest of the volume is disappointing. Citations were harvested from well-known, easily accessible tools such as the Dictionary of Literary Biography and American Women Writers. Most libraries would be better served by relying on the reference works mentioned and supplementing their circulating holdings with some of the recent ground-breaking discussions in this area, e.g., Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature, ed. by R.P. Bell, B.J. Parker, and B. Guy-Sheftall (1979); B. Christian, Black Women Novelists (Ch, Apr'81); Black Women Writers (1950-1980: A Critical Evaluation, ed. by M. Evans, (1984); and H.V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Emergence of the Afro-American Novelist (Ch, Jul'88). Although this reviewer cannot recommend Werner's bibliography for purchase by most libraries, its introduction is a must read for students and scholars involved in the study (examination and reexamination) of African-American women's literature. -F. D. Goff, Bryn Mawr College