Dreaming Out Loud brings together essays by many of the most well-known and respected African American writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, discussing various aspects of the vocation, craft, and art of writing fiction. Though many of the writers included here are also accomplished poets, essayists, and playwrights, this collection and the essays it contains remains focused on the novel as a genre and an art form.
Some essays explore the challenges of being an African American writer in the United States, broadly addressing aesthetic and racial prejudice in American publishing and literature and its changing face over the decades. Others are more specific and personal, recounting how the authors came to be a reader and writer in a culture that did not always encourage them to do so. Some are more general and focus on practice and craft, while still other essays offer detailed behind-the-scenes accounts of how famous novels, such as Native Son, Invisible Man, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Color Purple, came to life. Ranging from the Harlem Renaissance, through the Civil Rights movement, and into the twenty-first century, this anthology explores what it has meant to be an African American novelist over the past hundred years.
Found within are essays by twenty-one African American novelists, including Nobel Prize-winner Toni Morrison, National Book Award-winners Ralph Ellison and Charles Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winners Alice Walker and James Alan McPherson, and well-known canonical writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, and Margaret Walker. Dreaming Out Loud seeks to inspire writers and readers alike, while offering a fascinating and important portrait of novelists at work in their own words.
James Baldwin, Arna Bontemps, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Ellison, Ernest Gaines, Chester Himes, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Charles Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, Gayl Jones, Terry McMillan, James Alan McPherson, Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, Ishmael Reed, Martha Southgate, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, John Edgar Wideman, Richard Wright