Powell concedes the lack of a unifying theme in this eclectic collection of writing from 104 contemporary black writers, famous and obscure, aged 23 to 43, from 9 countries and 3 continents. The collection reflects the slickness of young black wordsmiths, race consciousness, and sensibilities about the artistry of communication via word. The different styles and media-- including a manifesto, a letter, and an e-mail--reflect the diversity of talent among the group of writers, generally lumped together under the heading of black writers. The collection includes Valerie Boyd in a tribute to Alice Walker, Lisa Jones on the magical cure for race relations represented by the self-described Cablinasian Tiger Woods, and Powell on the racial politics of death row. Some other writers represented are Debra Dickerson, Trey Ellis, Edwidge Danticat, Tananarive Due, and Jake Lamar. This book is arranged in six sections: essays, hip-hop journalism, criticism, fiction, poetry, and dialogue. Powell laments the "MTV-ization of The Word Movement" among the young hip-hop writers and rappers but celebrates the enduring artistry and worth of verbal communication among black writers. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
From Kirkus Reviews
Poet and journalist Powell (Keepin 'It Real, 1997) is one of the most audible and outspoken advocates of the young black literary voice on the scene today. He has here assembled the essays, fiction, poetry, criticism, and journalism of more than 100 young writers. Although of predictably variable quality, most entries are engaging and provocative, with stand-out work by Malcolm Gladwell ("The Sports Taboo: Why Blacks are Like Boys and Whites are Like Girls"), Daphne Brooks (a critical piece on Oprah's book club), Erin Aubrey (a consideration of Ebonics), Scott Poulson-Bryant (an insightful article on Sean "Puffy" Combs), and the very beautiful and often disturbing fiction of such talents as Junot Diaz, Christopher John Farley, John Keene, Victor D. La Valle, Phylis Alesia Perry, and Bernardine Evaristo. Considering a wide range of subjects (including sexuality, violence, feminism, linguistics, politics, prostitution, music, love, media, and spirituality), these short works are linked only by the racial origins of their authors. Powell's decision to alphabetize entries within categories serves to reiterate this lack of overriding theme and to emphasize the infinite range and flexibility of this, the new world of black writers. A fascinating collection of work from established authors and bold new voices.