18. African-American Classics (Graphic Classics)

African-American Classics edited by Tom Pomplun & Lance Tooks (US) - (Canada)
Graphic Classics, Vol. 22

Pages: 144
Ages: 12+
Finished: Jan. 16, 2012
First Published: Dec. 1, 2011
Publisher: Eureka Productions
Genre: graphic novel, anthology
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

The village of St. Gervais was one of the first to feel the devastating fury of the Hun.

Acquired: Received a Review Copy from Eureka Productions.

Reason for Reading: I absolutely love this series of books and read each new one that comes out.  I hope to get around to reading more of their backlist this year.

Publisher's Summary: "African-American Classics presents great stories and poems from America''s earliest Black writers, illustrated by contemporary African-American artists. Featured are ''Two Americans'' by Florence Lewis Bentley, ''The Goophered Grapevine'' by Charles W. Chesnutt, ''Becky'' by Jean Toomer, two short plays by Zora Neale Hurston, and six more tales of humor and tragedy. Also featured are eleven poems, including Langston Hughes' ''Danse Africaine'' and ''The Negro'', plus Paul Laurence Dunbar's ''Sympathy'' (''I know why the caged bird sings... '')"

Usually when I read one of these collections of themed books I am familiar with a majority of the works but this time everything was new for me.  I do read Black authors but they are contemporary ones such as Toni Morrison, making this an introduction for me to these early Black authors.  I should say I was familiar with one writer and that is the poet Langston Hughes.  This book does contain more than the norm, for this series, of poetry which I thought would bug me (not a poetry person) but I rather enjoyed the poems especially "Danse Africaine" (which was new to me) by Langston Hughes. 

Grouping together a collection of stories based on author's race rather than a literary theme makes for a wide selection of genres to be represented (though I would say they all expressed the Black experience) and as such a few were not exactly my thing, but I enjoyed the majority of them and found several of them to be excellent.  My favourite story was"Lex Talionis" by Robert W. Bagnall, a creepy tale of revenge.  I also enjoyed "Two Americans" by Florence Lewis Bentley, "The Goophered Grapevine" by Charles W. Chestnutt.  I found "Sanctum 777 N.S.D.C.O.U. Meets Cleopatra" by Leila Amos Pendleton to be a joy and was deeply touched with "Becky" by Jean Toomer. 

The illustrations throughout the book are fantastic, presenting a wide range of styles and making for a visually stunning book.  But then isn't every book in this series!  It should be noted that the illustrators for this book are themselves all contemporary Black artists.  A great book to treat yourself for Black History Month, or well, just anytime!  I certainly appreciate the introduction to authors I've never read before.


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