African Diasporic Short Fiction Criticism: Major American Authors Of The African Diaspora - Essay

Marilyn Nelson Waniek (essay date spring 1983)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Waniek, Marilyn Nelson. “Paltry Things: Immigrants and Marginal Men in Paule Marshall's Short Fiction.” Callaloo 6, no. 2(18) (spring 1983): 46-56.

[In the following essay, Waniek explores the themes of alienation and duality as reflected in Paule Marshall's short fiction.]

As a first-generation West Indian-American and the author of three novels and a collection of short stories, Paule Marshall gives evidence in her work of a marginal duality similar to that felt by immigrants. While not herself an immigrant, Marshall grew up in an immigrant community whose legacy to her and her work is a share of its alienation. Marshall's first novel, Brown Girl,...

(The entire section is 4497 words.)

Alain Solard (essay date fall 1985)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Solard, Alain. “Myth and Narrative Fiction in Cane: ‘Blood-Burning Moon.’Callaloo 8, no. 3 (fall 1985): 551-60.

[In the following essay, Solard provides an analysis of “Blood Burning Moon,” citing the story as an example of Toomer's point of view regarding race relations and spirituality.]

Jean Toomer's Cane,1 from which “Blood-Burning Moon” is taken, is a collection of short-stories interspersed with poems, which makes up a whole. It is divided into three parts. The first part includes the portraits of six southern women who are victims of the caste system. Most of the narratives in it take place in the atmosphere of...

(The entire section is 6804 words.)

Darlene Roy (essay date summer 1988)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Roy, Darlene. “Henry Dumas—Master Storyteller.” Black American Literature Forum 22, no. 2 (summer 1988): 343-45.

[In the following essay, Roy offers a brief evaluation of the black experience as reflected in Henry Dumas's Ark of Bones and Other Stories.]

Reading Ark of Bones and Other Stories by Henry Dumas makes me feel recurrently grateful at being allowed a private peek into his personal perception of the Black Experience. His rich application of imagery and symbolism is reflected in such universal conflicts as male/female, good/evil, progress/stagnation, racial separation/racial harmony, and labor/education; or is developed through his use of...

(The entire section is 891 words.)

Lorne Fienberg (essay date September 1990)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Fienberg, Lorne. “Charles W. Chestnutt's The Wife of His Youth: The Unveiling of the Black Storyteller.” American Transcendental Quarterly 4, no. 3 (September 1990): 219-37.

[In the following essay, Fienberg views Charles Chestnutt's short story “The Wife of His Youth” as a reflection of the author's own efforts to define himself as a black author.]

At the pivotal moment in Charles W. Chesnutt's “The Wife of His Youth” a mysterious old black woman walks through a doorway and tells her story. For twenty-five years she has been carrying this simple tale of the brutality of slavery and of her faithful love; each retelling of the story is a...

(The entire section is 8328 words.)

Rosalie Murphy Baum (essay date 1991)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Baum, Rosalie Murphy. “The Shape of Hurston's Fiction.” In Zora in Florida, edited by Steve Glassman and Kathryn Lee Seidel, pp. 94-109. Orlando: University of Central Florida Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Baum reflects on the politico-feminist aspects of Zora Neale Hurston's work, drawing parallels with other black female writers such as Nella Larson, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison, remarking that many readers of Hurston's work have tended to focus on her sexual politics instead of her racial politics.]

We, the critics of black literary traditions, owe it to those traditions to bring to bear upon their readings any “tool”...

(The entire section is 7006 words.)

Hilary Holladay (essay date fall 1994)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Holladay, Hilary. “Creative Prejudice in Ann Petry's ‘Miss Muriel.’” Studies in Short Fiction 31, no. 4 (fall 1994): 667-75.

[In the following essay, Holladay explores the depiction of racial, socioeconomic, and sexual prejudice in a small community in Ann Petry's “Miss Muriel.”]

In Miss Muriel and Other Stories (1971), Ann Petry reveals her continuing fascination with the way people are shaped by the company they keep. Although these stories were originally published over a long period of time (from the 1940s to 1971) they cohere geographically and thematically.1 All of the works take place in New York or New England, and, while...

(The entire section is 3583 words.)

David Cowart (essay date spring 1996)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Cowart, David. “Heritage and Deracination in Walker's Everyday Use.” Studies in Short Fiction 33, no. 2 (spring 1996): 171-84.

[In the following essay, Cowart explains how Alice Walker uses her main characters in “Everyday Use” to outline her own vision of the African American community in the past and present, as well as their struggle for identity and liberation.]

“Everyday Use,” a story included in Alice Walker's 1973 collection In Love ‘and Trouble, addresses itself to the dilemma of African Americans who, in striving to escape prejudice and poverty, risk a terrible deracination, a sundering from all that has sustained and defined them....

(The entire section is 6265 words.)

Judith Musser (essay date winter 1997)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Musser, Judith. “African American Women and Education: Marita Bonner's Response to the ‘Talented Tenth.’” Studies in Short Fiction 34, no. 1 (winter 1997): 73-85.

[In the following essay, Musser appraises Marita Bonner's short fiction as a unique collection of work that reflects the struggle of African American women attempting to answer the Harlem Renaissance's challenge for self-improvement via education while living outside the sanctuary of Harlem and struggling with issues of economic hardship, discrimination, and cultural alienation.]

Alain Locke's call for the “New Negro” and W. E. B. Du Bois's classification of “the Talented Tenth”...

(The entire section is 5709 words.)

Nicholas Birns (essay date June 2001)

(Short Story Criticism)

SOURCE: Birns, Nicholas. “Octavia Butler: Fashioning Alien Constructs.” The Hollins Critic XXXVIII, no. 3 (June 2001): 1-14.

[In the following essay, Birns contends that Octavia Butler “employs her African American and science fiction heritages to see anew the way things are.”]

In her essay “Furor Scribendi” Octavia Butler, with stunning practicality, tells beginning writers to read a lot, to write something every day and, above all, to “persist.” Advice so responsible is hard to find—especially from writers. Butler's approach to writing is different from that of many—even of many science fiction writers. For Butler, writing is a procedure for...

(The entire section is 6067 words.)