Black Short Fiction and Folklore

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Black Short Fiction and Folklore brings together 50,000 pages and an estimated 8,000 works of short fiction produced by writers from Africa and the African Diaspora from the earliest times to the present. The materials have been compiled from early literary magazines, archives, and the personal collections of the authors. Some 30 percent of the collection is fugitive or ephemeral, or has never been published before. The project unifies an astounding variety of traditions ranging from early African oral traditions to today's hip-hop. It covers fables, parables, ballads, folk-tales, short story cycles, and novellas--all the writings included will have fewer than 10,000 words. The presentation of this material in a single, cohesive, searchable form--together with extensive indexing--will enable scholars to study the writings in a wholly new way. The collection will provide unparalleled avenues of research for students and scholars of literature at all levels. Users can trace the evolution of the genre from its beginnings through to the present, with a comprehensive resource. For instance, with one search, users can find numerous examples of literary devices that are native to black short fiction, such as trickster tales--a type of folktale in which animals exhibit human speech and behaviors. The relevance of the collection extends well beyond literature: Fables and folktales provide unique insights into a culture's history and memories. Social anthropologists and psychologists will find this collection to be rich in myth and societal customs. The extensive indexing even makes it possible to see how certain parables evolve over time and to compare New World fables with those told in Africa today. Ideas expressed here often are not found in mainstream publications; getting novels published through traditional publishing channels was often impossible for blacks. But through short stories, these writers could express themselves quickly and distribute their works effectively through literary journals and other alternative forms. Historians will find the collection to be rich in political discourse, social commentary, and polemic.

Email Carrie Carrie Waibel

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