The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction
About The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction:
Telling life stories is a cultural heritage that African Americans can trace back hundreds of years, to the West African storytellers-musicians-historians called griots. In The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction, Jewell Parker Rhodes encourages African American writers to be modern-day griots, acquainting themselves with the work of earlier writers and committing their own lives and the lives of others to paper. As with Free Within Ourselves, in which Rhodes focused on fiction writing, it would be a shame for non-African Americans to overlook this book. Rhodes’s advice on writing (autobiography, memoir, and personal essays), revising, and getting published is solid, clear, and specific. She manages to make cheery affirmations not seem cloying. And she provides copious excerpts from a compelling African American canon, including longer pieces by Nathan McCall, Maya Angelou, Patrice Gaines, and Lorene Cary. The book concludes with advice from more than 30 black writers, including Pearl Cleage. “Tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth,” Cleage urges, “especially about the stuff you’d rather lie about.” –Jane Steinberg
Praise for The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction:
“Rhodes, former director of a university writing program, begins by conveying the necessity of writers, particularly African American writers, to find their voice and write about their experiences. She notes that since slave narratives, African Americans have recognized the need to merge African oral traditions and Western written traditions. Rhodes catalogs black literary ancestors and provides solid advice on gathering ideas from life’s joys and disappointments and using source materials from interviews with relatives to libraries and Web sites. After each chapter, Rhodes offers exercises that include reading a variety of nonfiction. She asks the reader to take careful note of how writers execute tone, texture, and rhythm and convey information. She provides helpful advice on writing autobiography and includes samples from such famous authors as Maya Angelou, Lorene Cary, and Nathan McCall. Finally, Rhodes provides information on getting published. She includes wisdom and advice from other black writers, a recommended reading list, and enthusiastic encouragement. Although the information is culturally specific to African Americans, any reader interested in writing will enjoy this book.”
– Vanessa Bush, Booklist
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