From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–This comprehensive set covers the people, events, and themes relevant to the African-American experience and the literature that it inspired. More than 1000 signed entries of varying length are organized alphabetically and include biographical information as well as critical discussions of the works. Other articles describe major themes, historical events, places, cultural figures, and literary genres that continue to impact the African-American experience. Coverage ranges from the Colonial period through the present. Resources for further information appear at the end of each article and include both print resources and Internet sites. Alphabetical and thematic lists of entries (including important dates) appear in each volume and there is a comprehensive index in the final volume. Although there are slight variations in the writing styles from article to article, the text is clearly written and engaging throughout. Sadly, only slightly more than 100 black-and-white illustrations, mostly portraits, are included. However, this is a completely accessible work. While it is by no means exhaustive (an impossible goal, the editors acknowledge), it is an important resource that should be considered by most libraries.–Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
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Of the 1,029 alphabetically arranged entries in these volumes, roughly 820 cover African American writers of fiction and nonfiction, from the eighteenth century to the present. The remaining entries extend coverage beyond authors, examining topics closely related to African American literature, such as critics, journals, literary genres, and literary movements, as well as subjects within the broader landscape of African American culture, such as Cooking, Detroit, Hip-Hop, Nation of Islam, Slang,
Specific works of literature do not have separate entries. Instead, articles on writers not only provide brief biographical data but also note key literary works.
Articles range in length from half a page on Bill Gunn to seven pages for Lyric poetry. Bold type within articles indicates related main entries. All articles include fairly lengthy references, which can comprise both primary and secondary resources. Internet sources are sometimes included. Each article ends with the name of one of 340 contributors, mostly representatives from academia.
Besides entries, the encyclopedia includes 117 black-and-white illustrations, a 10-page bibliography, and a 10-page chronology, beginning in 1507 and ending in 2004. Each volume contains both alphabetical and topical lists of entries, and volume 5 provides a detailed index
Greenwood's newest entry into the field of African American literature augments resources focused on criticism or specific literary works such as Masterplots II: African American Literature Series (Salem, 1994). Besides being more current, it covers more writers than the 530 in African American Writers: A Dictionary (ABC-CLIO, 2000) and the 400 in the Oxford Companion to African American Literature (1997). A search of the first 25 authors listed in the Greenwood work found 15 with biographical entries within Gale's online Literature Resource Center. Scribner's African American Writers (2001) contains longer entries but covers fewer authors. Be aware: Greenwood plans to include The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature in the upcoming online database African American Experience. Recommended for high-school, academic, and public libraries. Stephen Fadel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved