New Daughters Of Africa:
An International Anthology Of Writing By Women Of African Descent.
Edited by Margaret Busby[Myriad] With more than 200 black women writers in its 700 eventful pages, this inspiring collection punches above its very considerable weight. Editor Margaret Busby, who was at the helm for its predecessor 25 years ago, proves again to be as discerning and adventurous in her choice of contributors, as well as the genres in which they express themselves. The result is great diversity within a supposed minority, a resounding statement of the infinitely rich life experience of the ‘sisters’ drawn from Africa and the Diaspora. As was the case with the acclaimed first edition there is a commendable balance between those who are known and those who are unknown but nonetheless have illuminating things to say. There are thus few surprises about the excellence of Bernardine Evaristo’s On Top Of The World, a wonderful piece of prose that melts down any expectation of what a British-Nigerian could have in her DNA by way of an impassioned homage to icebergs in Greenland. On the other hand the poignant verse of Zambia’s Ethel Irene Kabwato will be a revelation, as will the luminous narrative and penetrating character studies of African-American Jesmyn Ward. Needless to say a host of other writers of varying profile, from Zadie Smith to Catherine Johnson, Mailka Booker, Jane Ulysses Grell and Attilah Springer, to name but some, also contribute work of a very high standard. Busby has grouped the texts by decade, reaching right back to the pre-1900, which results in a clear and vivid sense of evolution in both style and subject matter. It is timely to learn that Haiti, defined by western news in the 90s and 2000s as a blighted land of dictators and hurricanes, produces poets with the strength of a tempest, such as Anais Duplan. Her forensic depiction of blackness in a world where too few questions are asked is indispensable.
Kevin Le Gendre