*Starred Review* One hundred years after the death of Dunbar, he is most remembered for his poem "We Wear the Mask," evoking the balance required of blacks to survive and prosper in nineteenth-century America. This collection of 103 of Dunbar's short stories written between 1890 and 1905, including well-known pieces and many that have gone out of print, allows readers to see how the first African American writer to enjoy huge success evolved as a writer. The son of former slaves, Dunbar balanced the desire for a commercially successful career as a writer and the desire to tackle racial stereotypes. The first story he sold was a western tale with all white characters, part of his attempts to write outside of race issues. This collection also includes powerful stories of lynching, politics, religion, and social and interracial relationships--the broad spectrum of black life in America. In the introduction, the editors place Dunbar in the context of other contemporary writers, including Mark Twain and Charles Chestnutt, writers of sharp social commentary and possessing an adroit eye for human foibles. This is a valuable collection for readers interested in Dunbar and his place in African American and American literature. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
The son of former slaves, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the most prominent and publicly recognized figures in American literature at the turn of the twentieth century. Thirty-three years old at the time of his death in 1906, he had published four novels, four collections of short stories, and fourteen books of poetry, not to mention numerous songs, plays, and essays in newspapers and magazines around the world. THE EDITORS---Gene Jarrett is an assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is co-editor (with Henry Louis Gates Jr.) of a forthcoming anthology, New Negro Criticism: Essays on Race, Representation, and African American Culture. Thomas Morgan is a lecturer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His research and teaching interests focus on critical race theory in late-nineteenth century American and African American literature, specifically as it applies to the politics of narrative form.