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Journeys and Journals

Women's Mystery Writing and Migration in the African Diaspora


Carol Allen

Using literary criticism, theory, and sociohistoric data, this book brings into conversation black migrations with mystery novels by African American women, novels which explore fully the psychic, economic, and spiritual impact of mass migratory movements. Diaspora travel has been forced and selected and has extended from the Slave Trade through the contemporary moment, causing the black subject to wrestle with motion, the self in motion, the community in motion, the spirit in motion, culture in motion, and especially the past in motion. Reviewing these major migratory patterns of Africans to and within the United States from slavery to the present and defining the primary tropes and traditions in African American female mystery writing, each subsequent chapter looks intensely at specific figurative locations that could become a repository for reconstituted dense space in the new world. Detectives as penned by African American women writers sound out and deliberate over the viability of integrated institutions, the family, Bohemianism, religion, cities, class consciousness, and finally culture. Courses on African American literature, African American history and culture, detective fiction, urban studies, and women’s studies would find the book instructive.
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1. Mystery writer and African folklorist Clyde Ford inserts this dense world in one of his novels set in New York City: “… an ancestral spirit living in the subterranean world of the dead, who occasionally surfaced to aid or play tricks on the living” (The Long Mile 220).

2. See Sankofa and Yeelen for instance.

3. See William Wordsworth, The Lyrical Ballads, 2nd edition.

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