In the African-American Grain : Call-and-Response in Twentieth-Century Black Fiction
"In the African-American Grain" is a powerful exploration of the impact of African-American oral storytelling techniques on modern and contemporary fiction. Reading literature in the call-and-response tradition, John F. Callahan shows how African-American writers including Charles Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Ernest Gaines, and Alice Walker have used the forms and forces of this uniquely participatory discourse to establish not only a potential relationship between storyteller and audience but also a potential for change. In a new preface, Callahan comments on how the tradition of call-and-response has continued to develop among African-American writers as well as writers of other backgrounds.
- Paperback | 312 pages
- 151.9 x 228.9 x 23.9mm | 507.6g
- 30 Jun 2001
- University of Illinois Press
- Baltimore, United States
"While a discussion of call-and-response in African American fiction may seem self-explanatory now, Callahan's approach is unique, and this book remains an important piece of African American literary criticism." -- Adriane L. Ivey, South Atlantic Review "[A] splendidly researched and written book. In the African-American Grain is widely held to be the most sophisticated study of black narrative published to date. The book only grows in importance, as its readership grows." -- Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University "A significant and refreshing contribution to the advancement of Afro-American literary and cultural criticism, and to Afro-American literary theory... Callahan strikes an important note, voicing a distinctive call undoubtedly deserving an affirming critical response by his audience." -- Theodore O. Mason Jr., Callaloo "Through a series of richly illustrated and deftly argued interpretations of key 20th-century African-American prose texts ... Callahan pursues black literary tradition as both a reflection and an agent of an American cultural dynamic based on vernacular forms of storytelling. For Callahan, the call-and-response structure of African-American oral culture provides the source and the goal of black writing, embodying its enabling aesthetic technique and its continuous political meaning." -- Kimberly W. Benston, New Republic