Printer Friendly

Black Like Us: a Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction.

edited by Devon W. Carbado, Dwight A. McBride, and Donald Weise Cleis Press, July 2002 $29.95, ISBN 1-573-44108-2

The popularity of African-American same-gender loving (SGL) fiction in this new century owes much to the wordsmiths of the previous hundred years. Twentieth century lesbian, gay and bisexual authors of fiction began writing in codes as complex as Underground Railroad communiques, stepped tepidly out of the closet during the Harlem Renaissance.

Black Like Us: A Century of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual African American Fiction, charts this evolution deftly. From the turn-of-the-century writings of color-conscious Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Paul Laurence Dunbar's ex-wife who was herself a lesbian, to the unselfconscious pride and Afrocentricity of major SGL contemporary writers E. Lynn Harris, James Earl Hardy and Marci Blackman, we are treated to fascinating biographical profiles, each of which is followed by an example of the writer's work.

Langston Hughes' 1963 short story "Blessed Assurance" offers a joyful glimpse into the life of a brilliant, queer church-boy, while E. Lynn Harris breaks ground by giving voice to contemporary closeted homosexuality, and questioning African-American gay and bisexual men searching for self-acceptance in an excerpt from his debut novel, Invisible Life (1991).

The works and lives of Alice Walker, Countee Cullen, Audre Lorde, Melvin Dixon, Thomas Glave, Jewelle Gomez and Shay Youngblood, to name a few, are succinctly packaged in 555 pages. Although a book as ambitious as this should be applauded for its rich historical, cultural and anecdotal detail, the omission of Penny Mickelbury, noted contemporary lesbian author of eight popular out-of-the closet crime novels, is a glaring oversight. Nonetheless, the 36 writers showcased here, and their carefully selected literary works, as well as details of their fascinating lives and times comprise a literary anthology that is both vital and entertaining.

--Stanley Bennett Clay is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Clay, Stanley Bennett
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Previous Article:An Ordinary Woman.
Next Article:A Quiet Storm.

Related Articles
Witness to the League of Blond Hip Hop Dancers: A Novella and Short Stories.
Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison. (Reviews).
Contemporary Mental Health Issues Among African Americans.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters