Before Harlem

Before Harlem: An Anthology of African American Literature from the Long Nineteenth Century
edited by Ajuan Maria Mance

PS 508 .N3 M34 2016

“Despite important recovery and authentication efforts during the last twenty-five years, the vast majority of nineteenth-century African American writers and their work remain unknown to today’s readers. Moreover, the most widely used anthologies of black writing have established a canon based largely on current interests and priorities. Seeking to establish a broader perspective, this collection brings together a wealth of autobiographical writings, fiction, poetry, speeches, sermons, essays, and journalism that better portrays the intellectual and cultural debates, social and political struggles, and community publications and institutions that nurtured black writers from the early 1800s to the eve of the Harlem Renaissance.

As editor Ajuan Mance notes, previous collections have focused mainly on writing that found a significant audience among white readers. Consequently, authors whose work appeared in African American-owned publications for a primarily black audience – such as Solomon G. Brown, Henrietta Cordelia Ray, and T. Thomas Fortune – have faded from memory. Even figures as celebrated as Frederick Douglass and Paul Laurence Dunbar are today much better known for their “cross-racial” writings than for the larger bodies of work they produced for a mostly African American readership. There has also been a tendency in modern canon making, especially in the genre of autobiography, to stress antebellum writing rather than writings produced after the Civil War and Reconstruction. Similarly, religious writings – despite the centrality of the church in the everyday lives of black readers and the interconnectedness of black spiritual and intellectual life – have not received the emphasis they deserve.

Filling those critical gaps with a selection of 143 works by 65 writers, Before Harlem presents as never before an in-depth picture of the literary, aesthetic, and intellectual landscape of nineteenth-century African America and will be valuable resource for a new generation of readers.”
– publisher description

Not Just Jane

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature
by Shelley DeWees

PR 111 .D49 2016

“You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel. Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add a couple of others to this list . . . but there the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain?

In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women – Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon – DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life, and the literary landscape, during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women – among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel – who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.”
– publisher description

The Penguin Book of the Undead

The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters
edited by Scott G. Bruce

BF 1461 .P4345 2016

“Since ancient times, accounts of supernatural activity have mystified us. Ghost stories as we know them did not develop until the late nineteenth century, but the restless dead haunted the premodern imagination in many forms, as recorded in historical narratives, theological texts, and personal letters. The Penguin Book of the Undead teems with roving hordes of dead warriors, corpses trailed by packs of barking dogs, moaning phantoms haunting deserted ruins, evil spirits emerging from burning carcasses in the form of crows, and zombies with pestilential breath. Spanning from the Hebrew scriptures to the Roman Empire, the Scandinavian sagas to medieval Europe, the Protestant Reformation to the Renaissance, this beguiling array of accounts charts our relationship with spirits and apparitions, wraiths and demons over fifteen hundred years, showing the evolution in our thinking about the ability of dead souls to return to the realm of the living – and to warn us about what awaits us in the afterlife.”
– publisher description

Barkskins

Barkskins by Annie Proulx

PS 3566 .R697 B37 2016

“In the late seventeenth century, two penniless young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in Canada, then known as New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a seigneur, for three years in exchange for land, they become woodcutters – barkskins. Sel suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi’kmaw woman, and their descendants live trapped between inimical cultures. Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business.

Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years – their travels across North America, to Europe, China and New Zealand under stunningly brutal conditions – the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks and cultural annihilation. Again and again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face-to-face with possible ecological collapse.

Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid – in their greed, lust, vengefulness or their compassion and hope – that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.”
– publisher description

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin; edited by Stephen Emerson

PS 3552 .E72485 A6 2015

A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the grit of Raymond Carver, the humor of Grace Paley, and a blend of wit and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the Laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians.

Readers will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they’d ever overlooked her in the first place.”
– publisher description

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

PR 6068 .U757 T96 2015

“From Salman Rushdie, one of the great writers of our time, comes a spellbinding work of fiction that blends history, mythology, and a timeless love story. A lush, richly layered novel in which our world has been plunged into an age of unreason, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is a breathtaking achievement and an enduring testament to the power of storytelling.

In the near future, after a storm strikes New York City, the strangenesses begin. A down-to-earth gardener finds that his feet no longer touch the ground. A graphic novelist awakens in his bedroom to a mysterious entity that resembles his own sub-Stan Lee creation. Abandoned at the mayor’s office, a baby identifies corruption with her mere presence, marking the guilty with blemishes and boils. A seductive gold digger is soon tapped to combat forces beyond imagining.

Unbeknownst to them, they are all descended from the whimsical, capricious, wanton creatures known as the jinn, who live in a world separated from ours by a veil. Centuries ago, Dunia, a princess of the jinn, fell in love with a mortal man of reason. Together they produced an astonishing number of children, unaware of their fantastical powers, who spread across generations in the human world.

Once the line between worlds is breached on a grand scale, Dunia’s children and others will play a role in an epic war between light and dark spanning a thousand and one nights – or two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights. It is a time of enormous upheaval, in which beliefs are challenged, words act like poison, silence is a disease, and a noise my contain a hidden curse.

Inspired by the traditional “wonder tales” of the East, Salman Rushdie’s novel is a masterpiece about the age-old conflicts that remain in today’s world. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights is satirical and bawdy, full of cunning and folly, rivalries and betrayals, kismet and karma, rapture and redemption.”
– publisher description

Let Me Tell You

Let Me Tell You

Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings by Shirley Jackson

PS 3519 .A392 A6 2015

From the renowned author of “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House, a spectacular new volume of previously unpublished and uncollected stories, essays, and other writings.

Shirley Jackson is one of the most important American writers of the last hundred years. Since her death in 1965, her place in the landscape of twentieth-century fiction has grown only more exalted.

As we approach the centenary of her birth comes this astonishing compilation of fifty-six pieces – more than forty of which have never been published before. Two of Jackson’s children co-edited this volume, culling through the vast archives of their mother’s papers at the Library of Congress, selecting only the very best for inclusion.

Let Me Tell You brings together the deliciously eerie short stories Jackson is best known for, along with frank, inspiring lectures on writing; comic essays about her large, boisterous family; and whimsical drawings. Jackson’s landscape here is most frequently domestic: dinner parties and bridge, household budgets and homeward-bound commutes, children’s games and neighborly gossip. But this familiar setting is also her most subversive: She wields humor, terror, and the uncanny to explore the real challenges of marriage, parenting, and community – the pressure of social norms, the veins of distrust in love, the constant lack of time and space.

For the first time, here is a collection showcasing Jackson’s radically different modes of writing side by side. Together they show her to be a magnificent storyteller, a sharp, sly humorist, and a powerful feminist.

This volume includes a Foreword by the celebrated literary critic and Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin.”
– publisher description