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on November 26, 2010
A Home Elsewhere is an impressive collection of six academic lectures and essays by Robert Stepto, Professor of American Studies, African-American Studies, and English at Yale University. I was first drawn to this book after reading Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama. In the first half of the compilation, Stepto collates 'Dreams...' with other classic African-American narratives and novels such as My Bondage and My Freedom - Frederick Douglass,Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Souls of Black Folk to name a few. The authors and/or characters and the episode, scene or storyline are compared and contrasted to bring similarities to light.

The second half of the book ranges from an engaging memoir of Stepo's first year of collegiate life in 'A Greyhound Kind of Mood' to an erudite essay in 'Afterword: Distrust of the Reader in Afro-American Narratives'. Also included here is a brief introduction to Willard Savoy and his protagonist, Kern Roberts, in Savoy's novel Alien Land (Northeastern Library of Black Literature).

If you are a reader, avid or otherwise, of important African-American literary work, you will appreciate Stepo's scholarly treatment as he situates authors, characters and narratives in the Age of Obama.

Besides the titles listed above, the following are other notable references used in A Home Elsewhere:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
The Heroic Slave (Dodo Press)
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
Song of Solomon
Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American Slave, Written by Himself
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on June 8, 2016
Since reading Stepto's A Home Elsewhere in the year of its publication, I've had the joy of teaching it in my senior seminar courses. The depth of storytelling and analysis across major movements in American and African American literature took us further than we could have imagined. Seeing Obama's stories so methodically and passionately entwined with those of Douglass, Du Bois, Morrison, Stowe, Stepto and others contemporized our reading and helped us look with new insight at the necessity of looking closely at texts and with any luck, finding reflections of ourselves and our shared experiences/
A Home Elsewhere, however, is not just a must-read for academia. I've rarely read a piece of writing that so genuinely brings to life the words, wisdom, and human experience that define some of African American literature's most celebrated authors. Stepto writes as if he is speaking of his dear friends' most intimate experiences, and indeed he is, while he effortlessly invites the reader to join in the quest for "a home elsewhere". You may also wish to read the book as a meditation on the inventive, solitary, and courageous ways black boys raise themselves in restless and hopeless times. However you approach, A Home Elsewhere, prepare to be inspired, encouraged, and right at home among Stepto's brilliant prose.
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on June 28, 2015
How has this not been turned into an e version yet?
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