A Great American Protest Novel

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A spiritual inheritor to Agee, says Ward. [by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.] “There is in Southern white man, distributed almost as thickly as the dialect,” James Agee wrote in 1936, “an epidemic capability of sadism which you would have to go as far to match and whose chief basis is possibly, but only possibly, and only one among many, a fear of the Negro, deeper […]

In Toni Morrison’s Latest Novel, Black (Children’s) Lives Matter

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 [by Portia Owusu] In her review of Toni Morrison’s eighth novel, Love, English writer Hilary Mantel asserts: “when Morrison writes at her best, you can feel the workings of history through her prose.” An accurate description, if ever there was one, for the novelist who is often described as the voice of America’s conscience. For many, it is Morrison’s achievements in Beloved, the Pulitzer prize-winning […]

Toni Morrison: A Full Circle in Motion

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[by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.] Abraham Lincoln’s surmising that Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin begat the War Between the States is a folkloric salute to the power of language and imagination. Stowe used a lot of sugar to advance the cause of abolition. Superior to Stowe and members of her liberal tribe, Toni Morrison has avoided traffic in sugar or kindred flavorings. She is […]

Subversive Journalism: A Review of Earle V. Bryant’s BYLINE RICHARD WRIGHT: ARTICLES FROM THE DAILY WORKER AND NEW MASSES (2015)

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[by Jerry W. Ward, Jr.] Such recent dedicated scholarship as Mary Helen Washington’s The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s and William J. Maxwell’s F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature serve as a warrant for thinking of contemporary literary and cultural studies as components of a mega-surveillance machine. Readers and critics cooperate, often unwittingly, […]

Fight Media Hegemony with a Trickster’s Critique: Ishmael Reed’s Faction about O.J. and Media Lynching

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[by Yuqing Lin] Editor’s Note: The Project HBW Blog mostly traffics in shorter pieces, but from time to time we like to present our readers with a longer piece, as well, in a feature we call Taking the Long View.  For this installment, we feature scholar Yuqing Lin’s insightful, challenging review of Ishmael Reed’s recent novel Juice! Thanks to HBW Lead Blogger Dr. Jerry W. […]

Jesmyn Ward and the National Book Awards

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[By Goyland Williams] In 2011, the National Book Foundation awarded book awards in poetry and fiction to Nikky Finney and Jesmyn Ward, respectively. I go back to that moment in 2011 because it is and was a rare occasion when not one, but two black women received one of the premier prizes for writers. Furthermore, it was the first time that I—a young black man […]

Kevine Reeves–s.m.i.l.e.

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HBW Guest Blogger Kevin Reeves, in his blog post, reminds our readers of the importance of young writers having models. Reeves writes, “Young writers need models. Early in my apprenticeship my predecessors fed me greatly.” With his debut novel, s.m.i.l.e., Reeves seeks to “add to America’s cross-cultural storytelling tradition, which was fortified by those who inspired me, those storytellers in literature and in Hip Hop.” […]