This exciting collection introduces the first-ever annual anthology of writing by African Americans. Here are remarkable essays on a variety of subjects informed by—but not necessarily about—the experience of blackness, as seen through the eyes of some of our finest writers.
From art, entertainment, and science to technology, sexuality, and current events—including the battle for the Democratic nomination for the presidency—the essays in this inaugural anthology offer the compelling perspectives of a number of well-known, distinguished writers, among them Malcolm Gladwell, Jamaica Kincaid, James McBride, and Walter Mosley, and a number of other writers who are just beginning to be heard.
Selected from a diverse array of respected publications such as the New Yorker, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, and National Geographic, the essays gathered here are about making history, living everyday life—and everything in between. In “Fired,” author and professor Emily Bernard wrestles with the pain of a friendship inexplicably ended. Kenneth McClane writes hauntingly of the last days of his parents’ lives in “Driving.” Journalist Brian Palmer shares “The Last Thoughts of an Iraq War Embed.” Jamaica Kincaid describes her oddly charged relationship with that quintessentially British, Wordsworthian flower in “Dances with Daffodils,” and writer Hawa Allan depicts the forces of race and rivalry as two catwalk icons face off in “When Tyra Met Naomi.” A venue in which African American writers can branch out from traditionally “black” subjects, Best African American Essays features a range of gifted voices exploring the many issues and experiences, joys and trials, that, as human beings, we all share.
Please click the "Behind the Book" link for contributor’s bios.
About the Author
Gerald Early is a noted essayist and American culture critic. A professor of English, African & African American studies, and American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Early is the author of several books, including The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, and Modern American Culture, which won the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and This Is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s. He is also editor of numerous volumes, including The Muhammad Ali Reader and The Sammy Davis, Jr. Reader. He served as a consultant on four of Ken Burns's documentary films, Baseball, Jazz, Unforgivable Blackness (Jack Johnson), and The War, and appeared in the first three as an on-air analyst on baseball and jazz, which both aired on PBS.
Debra J. Dickerson was educated at the University of Maryland, St. Mary’s University, and Harvard Law School. She has been both a senior editor and a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report, and her work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Slate, the Village Voice, and Essence. She is the author of The End of Blackness and An American Story. She lives in Albany, New York.
Praise for Best African American Essays: 2009…
“A cracking good read, something that all too few essay anthologies manage to be.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This fascinating collection offers a look at the variety of perspectives on the African diaspora and larger human experience.” —Booklist
"Both intensely personal and political."—Boston Globe
"These short stories, excerpts from novels, and thoughtful essays cover a broad range of subjects, experiences and perspectives from many of the best writers working today."—Sacramento Bee