Since the 1980s, many activists and writers have turned from identity politics toward ethnic religious traditions to rediscover and reinvigorate their historic role in resistance to colonialism and oppression. In her examination of contemporary fiction by women of color—including Toni Morrison, Ana Castillo, Toni Cade Bambara, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko—Channette Romero considers the way these novels newly engage with Vodun, Santería, Candomblé, and American Indian traditions. Critical of a widespread disengagement from civic participation and of the contemporary novel’s disconnection from politics, this fiction attempts to transform the novel and the practice of reading into a means of political engagement and an inspiration for social change.
Activism and the American Novel provides an original and significant contribution to U.S. literary studies, ethnic studies, and feminist scholarship. Bringing a diverse group of ethnic authors into dialogue, Romero offers a more complicated multicultural focus and an important direction for twenty-first-century work.
This book takes as its focus an important, powerful, widely read, and widely taught body of contemporary American literature by renowned women of color. The author’s sophisticated grasp of spirituality and her thorough, nuanced knowledge of contemporary literature shine through the book. This is a valuable work by a gifted and insightful literary critic.
Channette Romero is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgia.