Cover image for Best literature by and about Blacks
Best literature by and about Blacks
Richards, Phillip M., 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Detroit : Gale Group, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 330 pages ; 29 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS153.N5 R53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
PS153.N5 R53 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



Dealing exclusively with literature written by blacks and about blacks, this reference book is designed for readers to locate what is needed on most significant works of literature for children and adults. Arranged chronologically by eras (such as Harlem Renaissance), the book covers a wide variety of genres, including: classic and contemporary novels, short stories, plays, poems, autobiographies, folklore, essays, nonfiction, and other types of literature. There are 3500 entries, each including the author's name, title of the work, publication date, genre and age range.

Author Notes

Phillip M. Richards is an associate professor in the Department of English at Colgate University.
Neil Schlager is the founder and president of Schlager Information Group, an editorial services company based in Chicago. He has worked in the reference industry for a decade

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Organized by historical era (1750^-1860, 1860^-1900, 1900^-1940, 1940^-present) and then by genre (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and literary criticism), this guide to information on significant writers and works in African American literature and history is written for students and teachers, librarians, and researchers. Each time period and, within the time periods, each genre is introduced by an essay to provide the historical context in which the works were created. The section on the period from 1940 to the present is the most substantive, taking up three-quarters of the book. The authors have compiled entries for 1,867 titles. Each numbered entry is listed by author's name and includes title, bibliographic information, an annotation, subjects covered, and awards won (if any). Annotations are more descriptive than evaluative and range in length from two or three to twenty lines. The easy-to-use index, which lists authors, titles, subjects, and keywords, is essential, because some authors appear under more than one time period and more than one genre. Although many authors may be familiar to readers, the volume helps introduce lesser-known names and works. In addition to entries for the novels of Ernest Gaines, the works of Henry Louis Gates Jr., and the poetry of Nikki Giovanni and Ntozake Shange, one also finds entries for Captain Cuffe's Logs and Letters, 1808^-1817: A Black Quaker's "Voice from within the Veil" and Lorraine Hansberry's unfinished play, Les Blancs. In keeping with the title, classics written about blacks by white authors, such as Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace and Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma, are included. Because the authors don't explain their selection criteria, it's hard to know why some books and authors are or are not here. Though most of the titles are works of African American literature and history written for adults, a few children's books are listed. Readers will also find at least one non-American title, Ben Okri's The Famished Road. The volume would be easier to use if eras and genres were indicated at the top of each page. Despite these minor problems, this is a highly readable reference work that could satisfy the browser as well as the serious student. It could also help in collection development in public and academic libraries.

Library Journal Review

This reference work by Richards (English, Colgate Univ.) and Schlager (editor of When Technology Fails) contains brief summaries of poetry, drama, fiction, literary criticism, and nonfiction by and about African Americans. While the emphasis is on literary works, annotations on such subjects as the Civil Rights Movement, health issues, and slavery are also included. Although the book could serve several purposesDfor plot summaries, as a guide for collection development, for reader's advisoryDits value is curtailed by an almost total absence of analysis. Perhaps it is most useful for locating obscure works for which summaries are otherwise unavailable (e.g.. Narena Easterling's novel A Strange Way from Home, May Miller's play Bog Guide). The arrangement into four chronological periods (1750-1860, 1860-1900, 1900-40, and 1940-present, where three-quarters of the summaries fall) and the alphabetical index containing authors, titles, subjects, and keywords are user friendly. Even with its limitation, this is a worthwhile purchase for collections emphasizing African American literature and culture. Still, Gale's What Do I Read Next?: Multicultural Literature is a better choice for most libraries; it includes information on where to obtain reviews, and the section on African Americans is nearly as long as the book under review.DLouis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The compilers place the literature by and about blacks in a framework that makes their volume interesting and useful. Titles are grouped by historical period, then by genre; the eras are 1750-1860, 1860-1900, 1900-40, and 1940-present. More than half the 1,867 entries cite fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, and literary criticism, 1940 to the present. Most juvenile literature is omitted. Entries included are groundbreaking (Allan H. Spear's Black Chicago, CH, Jan'68) or earliest of their type (Naomi Sims on black working women and fashion). An informative essay precedes the annotated entries for each era. By grouping the titles as they have, the authors make this a useful historic tool for both novices and experienced researchers. Both original date of publication and any subsequent publication dates of titles are identified. Each entry includes author's name, title of the work, bibliographic data, subjects covered by the text, and awards the book has won. A single comprehensive index lists authors, titles, subjects, and keywords. The authors make no claim to be comprehensive and give no criteria for inclusion of titles or authors. All levels. ; Chicago State University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
1750-1860p. 1
Fictionp. 2
Nonfictionp. 3
Poetryp. 7
Dramap. 12
Literary Criticismp. 13
1860-1900p. 15
Fictionp. 16
Nonfictionp. 20
Poetryp. 24
Dramap. 29
Literary Criticismp. 30
1900-1940p. 31
Fictionp. 32
Nonfictionp. 49
Poetryp. 58
Dramap. 69
Literary Criticismp. 77
1940-Presentp. 81
Fictionp. 81
Nonfictionp. 153
Poetryp. 246
Dramap. 269
Literary Criticismp. 278
Indexp. 307