Using the yardstick that a short story is any fiction under 15,000 words, Ishmael Reed–with the assistance of Carla Blank–has assembled an anthology that reexamines the history of the form across a broader, more inclusive spectrum. The result is a collection that stretches the boundaries of the American literary landscape, including work ranging from animal stories of the Northwest Coast Eyaks to African-American folklore to reflections on the American Muslim experience.
Pow-Wow is the sequel to Reed’s From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900-2002, a volume that included both Tupac Shakur and T. S. Eliot, and was named one of the best poetry anthologies of 2003 by Library Journal. Its fiction-focused follow-up once again demonstrates the broad range of American writing, from such stellar names as Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, Russell Banks, and Alejandro MurguÃto newly discovered writers of all races, genders, and backgrounds.
By presenting many different sides to the American story, the fiction of these writers challenges official history, shatters accepted myths, and provides alternatives to mainstream notions of personal and national identity. Gathering these voices together, Pow Wow offers a fascinating and vital opportunity to traverse the fault lines that separate, distinguish, and define a nation made of many Americas.
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