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Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471243762
ISBN-10: 0471243760
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Rodriguez, the founder of QBR: The Black Book Review, joins with a former editor of Black Elegance to compile a listing of the 100 most important books in black history.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

David walker’s Appeal. The Souls of Black Folk. Things Fall Apart. Their Eyes Were Watching God. The Fire Next Time. Beloved … Books are a cornerstone of black culture. Charting over 200 years of transition and turmoil, perseverance and triumph, intelligence, horror, and exquisite beauty, black literature rings with a remarkable people’s vitality and passion, improvisational spirit and spiritual questing. Now, capturing the full sweep of writing from the Diaspora—from Africa to the Caribbean to America—Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books celebrates the most influential works in this rich tradition, one of world literature’s strongest forces. QBR: The Black Book Review is the preeminent showcase for the critical review of contemporary African American books and authors. The editors of QBR have tapped a blue-ribbon panel of leading scholars, historians, authors, and booksellers to reach a consensus on works having the most significant impact across the decades—the books that matter most. The resulting list of 100 books is an impressive collection of poetry, short fiction, novels, drama, autobiography, and history. Divided into six thematic sections—introduced by outstanding young writers like Eisa Nefertari Ulen, Arthur Flowers, and Robert Fleming—the books are excerpted and highlighted with insightful commentary. The first section, "Ancestors, Origins, and Memory," explores books that have shaped our views of slavery, oppression, and the African continent as paradise lost. Included in this section are The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, the first independently written slave narrative; Beloved, Toni Morrison’s haunting tale of slavery and its aftermath; and Ivan Van Sertima’s ground-breaking challenge to European history, They Came Before Columbus. The section called "Community and Identity" celebrates books that explore individual freedom and the collective power of the alienated and marginalized, featuring the works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Chinua Achebe, and Lorraine Hansberry, among others. Their range is matched by their depth. In the sections "Politics, Nationalism, and Revolution" and "Soul and Spirit," one finds Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, Chancellor williams’s The Destruction of Black Civilization, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letters from a Birmingham Jail, and Marian Wright Edelman’s Guide My Feet. In "Sisters’ Stories," works by Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, and other outstanding writers capture the varied experiences of black women. "Brothers’ Lives" salutes the seminal works on black manhood by writers like Richard Wright, August Wilson, and Ernest Gaines. Honoring and exploring the greatest achievements in black writing across the centuries, Sacred Fire is soul-shaking, essential reading for all lovers of literature and lively opinion.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471243760
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471243762
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,699,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on October 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Here's a handy rule: always be wary of any person or institution who claims to have produced a list of "essential" items in any field. A case in point: "Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books," by Max Rodriguez, Angeli R. Rasbury, and Carol Taylor. The book is a list of 100 books from the African Diaspora, each with a brief descriptive commentary. The book features a foreword by Charles Johnson. While informative to a degree, this list is, in my opinion, seriously flawed.
In his foreword, Johnson mocks other recent attempts to create "essential" lists. He complains, for example, of the "nervous tokenism" of the "100 Best English-Language Novels" list from the Modern Library. Ironically, such criticisms could also be applied to this book! How did they come up with the list? Rodriguez is fuzzy on that point in his intro. He notes that the list stems from a request, addressed to individuals, to name 10 Black books that had the greatest impact on them. Rodriguez claims, "We asked everyone," then immediately admits that such an absurd statement is false. But he does note that he asked his sister!
Most of the books chosen are indeed essential classics. But I found the list as a whole too "safe," unimaginative, and narrow of vision. Johnson acknowledges the omission of such writers as Samuel Delany and Rita Dove in his foreword. Books with an experimental, cutting edge quality seem to be absent. I was also dismayed by the failure to include many historic literary milestones by African-American women. Books by Black gay men that deal directly with the black gay experience are also largely absent. Black lesbians are represented by a token appearance by Audre Lorde (with her book "Sister Outsider").
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Format: Hardcover
This book should be a part of the library of those who study black culture and history. It is an excellent guide to literature past and present. About ten years ago the Oakland Public Library published a list of the one hundred books that were classics. Supposedly by having read these books you would be considered well read. There were many I had read but people of color was sorely missing from this list. I am grateful that Max Rodrigues, who also puts out an excellent review of books by and about black people- QBR: The Black Book Review, published this great resource. Of course one can think of more books to be added to the list and in the publication last year readers were invited to add their own list of favorities. This book is a great referral tool and a timeless keepsake.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read several QRB books over the years. I have found them all thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Sacred Fire is such a book. The short vignettes are summaries of the 100 essential black books, a must read for all-- scholars,teachers, students and people throughout the diaspora.
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Format: Hardcover
If your knowledge of black lit doesn't go beyond the latest Oprah pick, this book is essential. Although some of the picks can be argued, the short, opinonated summaries are fun to read and the list itself is a great guide to a year's worth of good reading.
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