Notable African American Writers Review

“Notable African American Writers is the latest offering from the Magill’s Choice series, designed to provide basic and affordable reference sources derived from the publisher’s larger sets. This collection is a good starting point for undergraduates or high-school students who are beginning reading and research in African-American literature. Of the 80 author essays found here, 68 were adapted from the various titles in the Critical Survey series, and 12 were specially commissioned Writers from the colonial to the contemporary eras are discussed.

Entries are arranged alphabetically, and each begins with a list of the author’s major genres, and pseudonyms, and birth and (where relevant) death dates. The entry on Octavia E. Butler, one of the few science fiction writers included, is current enough to not [know] her February 24, 2006 death date. Many entries include a black-and-white photograph or drawing. Essays vary in length from four to more than twenty pages and all have the same format. After the basic identifying information, comes a chronological listing works organized by type. The text of each essay is divided into three sections. “Achievements” sums up the author’s awards and reputation, “Biography” offers some details about the writer’s life and influences, and “Analysis” provides the reader with a discussion of the works in one or more of the author’s major genres. Every essay ends with and up-to-date annotated bibliography of secondary sources for further study.

At the end of volume 3 are appendixes offering four overview essays on African-American drama, fiction, short fiction, and poetry; a list of additional writers and works; a bibliography of secondary sources; a list of electronic resources; and a chronological list of authors. Four indexes provide access by genre, personages, title, and subject. The appendixes and indexes help set this resource apart from the numerous other references works on African-American writers, and add to its value for students. Recommended for public, high-school and undergraduate collections.”
-Booklist, 2006