Friday, February 25, 2011

Fantastic Five Friday!

Well, I know the month is almost over, but I couldn't let it pass by without mentioning that it's Black History Month. But it's gone by so quickly (where has the time gone?). So this Fantastic Five Friday is going to be dedicated to those awesome African-American female writers that we should recognize even more this month than usual, but let's face it, we should be recognizing them every month. Now I haven't read stuff by all of these women yet but I sure do plan on it. Regardless, their influence and greatness cannot be denied.

So here it is: Fantastic Five Friday: African-American Female Writers!

Toni Morrison
Now this is an author I actually have had a chance to read. And boy oh boy, it was a doozy! Not for the faint at heart, lemme tell ya.
Morrison was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. The theme of her novels usually focus on black women facing unjust circumstances (like I said, not light reading). And she's written some really famous ones, including: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved (the one I've read), Tar Baby, Jazz and Love.

Alice Walker
Most of you will probably know her name from her ultra-famous novel, The Color Purple, that was adapted in the ultra-famous movie of the same name. Unfortunately I have yet to read this one but it's on my TBR. For that novel Walker won a Pulitzer Prize. She was also the one that worked to uncover the basically lost work of another famous African-American female author: Zora Neale Hurston. And she's a great advocate in the fight against female circumcision.

Maya Angelou
Known around the world for one of the most famous works ever: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she has been called "America's most visible female black autobiographer." She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her work and has tons of poetry and other works since. Huge in the Civil Rights Movement she has also been friends/colleagues with basically every poltician since the 70s.

Phillis Wheatley
This one is an oldie but a goodie. She was a poet way back before America even declared independence from the British. Well, WHILE they were in the middle of declaring independence more like. She was actually the first African-American woman who had her stuff published. George Washington was a fan! Not surprisingly for the times, a lot of her stuff revolved around religious themes. She gained fame with a collection of work called Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. But most didn't at first believe that a slave could possess the literary skills to write poetry and she had to prove that the poems were, in fact, her own works.

Octavia Butler
An African-American female science-fiction writer! Oh my! No seriously, it's true. I have one of her books on my TBR too and I can't wait to buy and it start reading: Kindred. It's about black woman that is transported back to the days of slavery, specifically the early 19th century. Though she technically cateogized this particular novel of hers as not as a sci-fi, it kind of sounds like a mix between that and regular literature. Intriguing! Butler was also the first sci-fi writer to win the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.

So there you have it. Enjoy the rest of your Black History Month. Go out and learn something!


Jennifer O. said...

Great post! Ihadn't heard the name Phyllis Wheatley in a very long time...

Christie said...

I've not heard of three of these ladies, so thanks for opening my eyes a little. Great post!

Heather said...

Octavia Butler is amazing! I've read her Patternist series and Fledgling, which I think would also have been a series if she hadn't died. I've got Kindred on my shelf waiting for me to get to it. I have read and love all of these authors-Morrison is my favorite of that list.

Red said...

Thanks for this post! I've read Butlers Lilith's Brood trilogy but have yet to check out her other work. I've heard good things about Kindred and Fledgling.

llevinso said...

@Jenny, yeah it's been a while since I've heard Wheatley mentioned as well. That's why I felt she was an important one to post about.

@Christie, it's like I'm a teacher ;) Which 3?

@ Heather and Red, I'm really excited to read Butler. I've heard really good things. And I just think an African-American sci-fi writer is pretty cool in general. I mean, you rarely hear about even a female sci-fi writer. It's a genre usually over run by male authors.

Stephanie M. Hasty said...

i have never heard of octavia researching her as we speak. i saw this yesterday, but did not read it, so glad you posted it to me! kindred sounds cool!
we read phillis wheatley in the honors class i teach, the kids always think she's a little too religious and grateful for those who 'rescued' her from africa...we talk about time period and why should would be grateful...she's part of a great unit.
lovely post!

llevinso said...

Yeah, it's difficult because I'm not religious and I can certainly understand students complaints against Wheatley but you have to look at her in context. She's a remarkable figure.