Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lewis' second book contains notable collection of stories

Books now read in ’07: 37
Title: I Got Somebody in Staunton
Author: William Henry Lewis
Genre: Fiction
Date Completed: 4-28
Pages: 202

It’s interesting to compare the short stories in William Henry Lewis’ collection I Got Somebody in Staunton to those in All Aunt Hagar’s Children by Edward P. Jones. Both are the work of accomplished authors. Both the work of African Americans and, yet, admittedly this should come as a source of no particular surprise, the collections vary greatly in content and tone.

Jones’ writings include the mystical and supernatural – the devil is here and a Carolina witch effects a cure that eludes modern medicine – while Lewis’ stories are hard-edged, mining many of the fears that, even in such an enlightened time, daily accompany the American black.

I have previously recommended Jones’ book. Now, I do the same for Lewis, whose collection of stories, and only his second book, was short-listed for the National Book Award last year. This is an especially powerful and notable effort.

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