Friday, February 5, 2010

Black History Month: African American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World

In honor of Black History Month, I will share some great collections of African American and African folklore throughout the month. Today, I am featuring African American Folktales: Stories from Black Traditions in the New World (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library) by Roger Abrahams.

Product Description from the publisher:

From the canefields of the ante-bellum South, the villages of the Caribbean islands, and the streets of contemporary inner cities, here are more than one hundred tales from an "incredibly rich and affirmative storytelling tradition" (Choice).

Full of life, wisdom, and humor, these tales range from the earthy comedy of tricksters to stories explaining how the world was created and got to be the way it is, to moral fables that tell of encounters between masters and slaves. They includes stories set down in travelers' reports and plantation journals from the early nineteenth century, tales gathered by collectors such as Joel Chandler Harris and Zora Neale Hurston, and narratives tape-recorded by Roger Abrahams himself during extensive expeditions throughout the American South and the Caribbean.

From the Back Cover

"Earthy and comedic...a rousing good read.... I suspect Mr. Abraham's book will be read a generation hence."
--New York Times Book Review

"Another masterful addition and accessible introduction to the captured myths of what the Mede calls 'God's Chiefdom'.... Sweeping across the continent...the juxtaposition of tribes and pacing of story lengths make for lively reading."
--Washington Post Book World

About the Author

Roger D. Abrahams is a former president of the American Folklore Society. Among his most recent books are African Folktales (also availabe in Pantheon paperback), After Africa (with John Szwed), and Singing the Master.

Abrahams is one of the pioneers of African American folklore scholarship in the past 30 years. This title was originally released in 1985 as Afro-American Folktales but was re-released in 1999 with the current title. Be aware that this, as well as many other Pantheon titles, are intended more for adult audiences than young children. The violence and some other issues although not graphic will merit discussion and are not unique to this ethnic group, but appear throughout folklore. (I include this warning after reading a negative reader review on the Amazon page.)

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