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Mending the World: Stories of Family by Contemporary Black Writers.

edited by Rosemarie Robotham Basic Civitas Books, December 2002 $25.00, ISBN 0-465-07062-0

Mending the Worm is noteworthy for bringing together a cadre of black authors (both established and new) writing about the most influential aspect of black culture--the black family. As she did with her first anthology, The Bluelight Corner, Rosemarie Robotham (author of Zachary's Wings and coauthor of Spirits of the Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Seventeenth Century), lends a qualitative sensibility to her choice of pieces for this collection.

From the preface by Maya Angelou ("Great Expectations"), to the foreword by Pearl Cleage ("Reflections on Family") and the editor's introduction ("Making Up the Truth"), the message is clear: this is black people telling their own stories of family. "Connected by blood and bone and memory," says Cleage, "a family is always greater than the details that come to define it."

Robotham reminds us: "Marginalized as we were in the societies of the New World, Black writers were faced with `making up' the truth, literally writing ourselves and our experiences into being." Thus as Angelou notes, "In the struggle for the soul of our families, Black writers have a special role to play."

Through the five sections of the anthology (five prisms, if you will)--First Light, Myth-Making, The Shifting Self, A Taste of Eden and Mending the World--we see the black family and its complexities, reflecting joy and pain. Participants in this "telling" include Jamaica Kincaid ("The Circling Hand"); Olive Senior ("Bright Thursday"); Edwidge Danticat ("The Book of the Dead"); Martha Southgate ("Show Business"); Breena Clarke ("The Drill"); Debra Dickerson ("Who Shot Johnny?"); Paule Marshall ("Sleeper's Wake"); Charles Johnson ("China"); Rosemarie Robotham ("Counting Breaths"); Alice Walker ("The Two of Us"); and Rebecca Walker ("The Good Daughter").

Mending the World is a treasure with stories as varied as the people they represent. As Robotham affirms, this anthology's "gift" is "to transform how we see our kinship experiences by creating a lens through which we view today's Black family anew." It is a gift we gladly accept.

--Denolyn Carroll is the assistant managing editor at Essence.
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Author:Carroll, Denolyn
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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