The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 to Present
by Gloria Naylor
In 1969, Little, Brown and Company published The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, edited by Langston Hughes – the classic compendium of African-American short fiction from 1897 to 1967. Now, a quarter of a century later, Gloria Naylor has compiled an encore volume, Children of the Night, bringing this extraordinary series up to date. Gathering together the most gifted black writers of our time – from 1967 to the present – Naylor has assembled a rich and varied collection of stories. The portrait that emerges of the African-American experience in the post-Civil Rights era is stirring, compelling, sometimes disturbing, and certainly provocative. Naylor has arranged the stories thematically so the reader focuses on a particular subject – slavery, for example, or the family. In the hands of different writers, these themes provide a wealth and variety of human experience. The stories are more than testimonies of the long battle for survival. From a young woman’s struggles with her barren faith in Alice Walker’s lyrical “The Diary of an African Nun” to an innocent man’s involvement in a horrifying act of violence in Ann Petry’s “The Witness”, they are, as Naylor states in her introduction, “examples of affirmation: of memory, of history, of family, of being”. They are stories for all of us “at the beginning: of mankind as a species; of America as a nation; of the African-American as a full citizen”.