Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books
by Max Rodriguez, Angeli Rasbury, Carol Taylor and Charles Johnson
David Walker's Appeal. The Souls of Black Folk. Things Fall Apart. Their Eyes Were Watching God. The Fire. Next Time. Beloved…
Books are a cornerstone of black culture. Charting over 200 years of transition and turmoil, perseverance and triumph, intelligence, horror, and exquisite beauty, black literature rings with a remarkable people's vitality and passion, improvisational spirit and spiritual questing.
Now, capturing the full sweep of writing from the Diaspora—from Africa to the Caribbean to America—Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books celebrates the most influential works in this rich tradition, one of world literature's strongest forces.
QBR: The Black Book Review is the preeminent showcase for the critical review of contemporary African American books and authors. The editors of QBR have tapped a blue-ribbon panel of leading scholars, historians, authors, and booksellers to reach a consensus on works having the most significant impact across the decades —the books that matter most. The resulting list of 100 books is an impressive collection of poetry, short fiction, novels, drama, autobiography, and history.
Divided into six thematic sections —introduced by outstanding young writers like Eisa Nefertari Ulen, Arthur Flowers, and Robert Fleming —the books are excerpted and highlighted with insightful commentary. The first section, "Ancestors, Origins, and Memory," explores books that have shaped our views of slavery, oppression, and the African continent as paradise lost. Included in this section are The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, the first independently written slave narrative; Beloved, Toni Morrison's haunting tale of slavery and its aftermath; and Ivan Van Sertima's groundbreaking challenge to European history, They Came Before Columbus.
The section called "Community and Identity" celebrates books that explore individual freedom and the collective power of the alienated and marginalized, featuring the works of W. E. B. Du Bois, Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Chinua Achebe, and Lorraine Hansberry, among others. Their range is matched by their depth. In the sections "Politics, Nationalism, and Revolution" and "Soul and Spirit," one finds Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice, Chancellor Williams's The Destruction of Black Civilization, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letters from a Birmingham Jail, and Marian Wright Edelman's Guide My Feet. In "Sisters' Stories," works by Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, and other outstanding writers capture the varied experiences of black women. "Brothers' Lives" salutes the seminal works on black manhood by writers like Richard Wright, August Wilson, and Ernest Gaines.
Honoring and exploring the greatest achievements in black writing across the centuries, Sacred Fire is soul-shaking, essential reading for all lovers of literature and lively opinion.
"QBR's evolving canon is a splendid way to begin honoring black artists."—Charles Johnson, from the Foreword.