The essay collection in Black American literature has been a source of intellectual assertion of an array of thoughts and commentary on culture, existential examination and perception and different forms of expression: creative nonfiction, journalism and personal essays. Collections are also opportunities for editors to compile and curate the work of influential writers, oftentimes, posthumously. “James Baldwin: Collected Essays,” “The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni,” Toni Morrison’s “The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations” and “The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou” are collections that have touched readers all over the world. There are two collected works emerging in 2022 and 2023 that promise to quickly be added to the Black literary and journalistic canon for their historical relevance and contribution and as undeniable sources of Black excellence.
Victory Is Assured: Uncollected Writings of Stanley Crouch by Stanley Crouch, Edited by Glenn Mott (Liveright)
Stanley Crouch, who passed away in 2020, is known as one of the world’s most auspicious jazz critics. His poignant and intellectually engrossing writing style has been a source of cultural fervor and conversation beginning with his contributions to The Village Voice as a staunch and provoking cultural critic. Crouch’s legacy places him at the pinnacle of Black criticism, making “Victory Is Assured” a collection that offers relief to those who still grieve the writer’s voice and impact. Editor Glenn Mott assembles the writer’s previously unpublished works and pieces found on his computer following his unexpected death. For those who have followed Crouch’s work since the beginning, young writers who are excited to delve into the modern work of a criticism titan, and every reader who sits between the spectrum of fan and the inquisitive student.
You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays by Zora Neale Hurston, Introduction and Edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“You Don’t Know Us Negroes” is the highly anticipated new book of essays from the deeply profound Black writer, Zora Neale Hurston. The carefully crafted assortment of essays, gathered by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Genevieve West, span over 30 years from the beginning of the Harlem Renaissance to educational integration. Hurston’s work “articulates the beauty and authenticity of Black life as only she could. Collectively, these essays showcase the roles enslavement and Jim Crow have played in intensifying Black people’s inner lives and culture rather than destroying it.” This collection is a historical addition to Hurston’s culmination of work that has been emerging since the 2000s. “You Don’t Know Us Negroes” is indispensable literary work for the Black book collector and Black literary enthusiast.
It is nothing less than reassuring that the continuation of the exploration of these writers is actively creating new works for the world to discover. We mustn’t take for granted the consistent mining of writing from writers like Crouch and Hurston. Their work preserves the integrity of Black literature and is likely to inspire a new generation of Black writers, authors and cultural critics.