ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Weaned on the works of these legendary literary writers who came before them, this new

wave of black woman writers are also . . . "the children of Black power; Fat Albert

and the Cosby Kids; Roots, the Huxtables; the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton years."


Shaking the Tree

A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women

Edited by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah



Black women writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, and Gloria Naylor rose to the forefront of American literature in the 1970s, the first time Black women gained mainstream attention and prominence for their writing. Now Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction by Black Women [W.W. Norton; September 22, 2003; $24.95] highlights the next generation of contemporary Black women writers whose voices are defining a new era of American literature following up the legacy established.

From an upper crust prep school to a Haitian refugee raft, from the newsroom to the New York Times to the inside of a prison, Shaking the Tree offers myriad answers to the question of what it means to be a Black woman today.

Weaned on the works of these legendary literary writers who came before them, this new wave of black woman writers are also, as Meri Danquah writes in the introduction, "the children of Black power; Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids; Roots, the Huxtables; the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton years."

The twenty-three voices gathered here came of age in the wake of the civil rights, black arts, gay rights, and feminist movements. Their literature embodies the tragedies and the triumphs of contemporary black women in their struggle to negotiate a sense of individual identity beyond the limited scope of gender and race. They are their mother's daughters, and nothing at all like them. Today's black women authors write in voices their literary forebears had to keep to a whisper.

Shaking the Tree offers a panorama of both fiction and memoir, revealing perspectives as diverse as they are dynamic: asha bandele recounts how she fell in love with a prisoner charged with murder; Rebecca Walker explores a childhood split between disparate racial and cultural landscapes; ZZ Packer remembers her near-abduction from summer camp at a time when local black children were being found murdered; Lorene Cary remembers the isolation she felt as a young Black teenager at a mostly-white, northeastern prep school; Danzy Senna and Carolyn Ferrell tell tales about being young and biracial in a society that sees only in black and white.

Shaking the Tree is a vibrant and moving book, one that holds promise, courage, ambivalence, and despair in equal measure. This anthology is as urgent as it is historical -- these voices are the future of American literature.

--W.W. Norton Publisher

Ms. Danquah has indeed shaken a literary tree. The fruit that fell down will nourish readers for a long time, and probably the best thing I can say and I realize the most selfish is, "At last, a number of older black writers can stop holding their breath and exhale."

--Maya Angelou

Danquah's collection focuses on works published after 1990, when black women were facing an explosion of issues new to their generation and moving beyond the constraints of the black community physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually. . . . The collection explores an array of concerns of black women: sexual and racial politics, tensions between the sexes and the races, and concepts of beauty and sexuality that are influenced and reflected in American racial mythology.


Danquah has a keen ear and eye for not just the complexity but the sheer cacophony of expression that echoes the experience of being black and female in America at the close of the 20th century.

--Lynell George, Ms. Magazine

Not since Breaking Ice has an anthology so freed the spirits of African American women. The authors, although of diverse backgrounds and experiences, all have one glorious thing in common--they are absolutely fearless. the stories and memoirs of these talented women are honest, uncompromising, and inspiring because they tell it like it is.

--Ai, Winner of the National Book award for Vice

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Shaking the Tree

A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women

Edited by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Table of Contents


The Incoming Wave: An Introduction


asha bandele "Home" from The Prisoner's Wife


Lorene Cary From Black Ice


Veronica Chambers From Mama's Girl


Meri Nana-Ama Danquah From Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey
Through Depression


Edwidge Danticat "Children of the Sea" from Krik? Krak!


Debra J. Dickerson "Beginning Again" from An American Story


Carolyn Ferrell "Wonderful Teen" from Don't Erase Me


Dana Johnson "Markers" from Break Any Woman Down


Lisa Jones "It's Racier in the Bahamas" from Bulletproof Diva: Tales
of Race, Sex, and Hair


Helen Elaine Lee From The Serpent's Gift


Catherine E. McKinley "July 1978" from The Book of Sarahs: A Family in Parts


Itabari Njeri "What's Love Got to Do With It?"
From Every Good-bye Ain't Gone


ZZ Packer "The Stranger"


Phyllis Alesia Perry "April 1974--Johnston Creek" from Stigmata


Patricia Powell From The Pagoda


Nelly Rosario "Leila, 1998" from Song of the Water Saints


Danzy Senna "The Body of Luce Rivera" from Caucasia


Martha Southgate "The Wall of Pain" from The Fall of Rome


Natasha Tarpley From Girl in the Mirror: Three Generations of
Black Women in Motion


Lisa Teasley "Nepenthe" from Glow in the Dark


Rebecca Walker "Larchmont" from Black, White, and Jewish:
Autobiography of a Shifting Self


Yolanda Young "On Our Way to Beautiful" from On Our Way to Beautiful


Shay Youngblood "Lover" from Black Girl in Paris









Meri Nana-Ama Danquah, born in Ghana, emigrated to the United States at the age of six with her family. Her first book, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression, was published in 1998 by W.W. Norton & Co. to great acclaim. It was the first book published by an African-American to address the topic of depression. The Washington Post hailed the book as "a vividly textured flower of a memoir that will surely stand as one of the finest to come along in years."

Meri Danquah appeared on The Today Show, Lifetime Television for Women, ABC World News Tonight, and she was the subject of two documentaries on the topic of depression.

Meri Danquah was also chosen by the National Mental Health Association to be the national spokesperson for their "Campaign on Clinical Depression," an initiative that specifically targeted African American women and was launch in cooperation with organizations such as the National Council of Negro, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the National Association of Black Social Workers.

In this capacity, she toured the nation delivering speeches and addressing audiences at conferences, workshops, in churches and at book stores, with the aim of promoting awareness of clinical depression in order to lessen the existing stigma in African American communities surrounding the disorder. In 2000, at the age of 32, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Welcome Back Awards organization, an alliance of mental health advocacy groups.

A poet and journalist as well, her writing has been featured in onthebus, storie, The Washington Post, Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Emerge, Allure, Essence, Los Angeles Magazine, and other publications. During the 2000-01 academic year, Ms. Danquah held a Visiting Scholar appointment at the University of Ghana's School of Communication Studies, where she taught graduate level courses in Print Journalism. Meri Danquah also edited the anthology Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women, published in 2000 by Hyperion.

She lives in Los Angeles, California

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance

Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It

By Les Leopold

How could the best and brightest (and most highly paid) in finance crash the global economy and then get us to bail them out as well? What caused this mess in the first place? Housing? Greed? Dumb politicians? What can Main Street do about it? In The Looting of America, Leopold debunks the prevailing media myths that blame low-income home buyers who got in over their heads, people who ran up too much credit-card debt, and government interference with free markets. Instead, readers will discover how Wall Street undermined itself and the rest of the economy by playing and losing at a highly lucrative and dangerous game of fantasy finance. He also asks some tough questions:  Why did Americans let the gap between workers' wages and executive compensation grow so large? Why did we fail to realize that the excess money in those executives' pockets was fueling casino-style investment schemes? Why did we buy the notion that too-good-to-be-true financial products that no one could even understand would somehow form the backbone of America's new, postindustrial economy? How do we make sure we never give our wages away to gamblers again? And what can we do to get our money back? In this page-turning narrative (no background in finance required) Leopold tells the story of how we fell victim to Wall Street's exotic financial products. Readers learn how even school districts were taken in by "innovative" products like collateralized debt obligations, better known as CDOs, and how they sucked trillions of dollars from the global economy when they failed. They'll also learn what average Americans can do to ensure that fantasy finance never rules our economy again. The Economy

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 30 January 2012




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