A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR



WHEN NOVELS MATTERED:
THE BLACK WRITER'S BURDEN

A COMMENTARY
BY FRED BEAUFORD


After reading Ralph Ellison's life story, wonderfully told by Arnold Rampersad, I couldn't help but reflect on the many psychological burdens Ellison had to carry; and strangely, in many ways, as a novelist, I envied him for that.

I knew that part of the reason he became paralyzed after the tremendous success of his first novel, and only real novel, Invisible Man, and never produced another novel in his lifetime, was that he now fully understood what America, both black and white, expected of him.

And it was not just to produce another masterpiece. That, in itself, would have been burden enough. But no, Ellison discovered, as if he didn't already know in the depth of soul, that the black, or Negro novelist, as we were called back then, carried a far greater burden than a white writer could ever begin to imagine.

This was before the electronic revolution fully changed everything, and print was still king. This was a time when novels still mattered. This was also a time when there were still living blacks who were born in slavery, and the vast mass of blacks were drowning in ignorance; few could read, and the face they presented to a white America addicted to Fascism, was of a people who were suited just fine to repression.

The great New World intellectual, W.E.B DuBois, years earlier, had given black artists like Ellison their marching orders: They had to play a major role in the liberation, and perhaps the major role, in the humanization of blacks; first, by presenting a positive image of black people to counteract the overwhelming racist propaganda coming from the European settlers; and by pointing out that there was nothing "inherent" in the ignorance, violence and overall bad behavior coming from the black community, but was the result of 350 years of slavery, forced breeding, rape, ridicule from every strata of white society and violent acts committed against blacks by the Northern European settlers.

In addition, in perhaps their biggest role, black writers were also to instruct whites to live up to their words on paper, tum their backs on their Fascist past and become true democrats.

Although the European settlers had little use for intellectuals and novelists, which caused the great novelist Henry James to thumb his nose at America and flee to Europe, for African-Americans, and ultimately, for America, black intellectuals and novelists were a precious lifeline to a better future. For downtrodden blacks, novels mattered.

What this also meant was that personal issues, like the despicable "One Drop Rule," which Ellison was the first to expose as the science fiction story it is, or sexual and gender issues, or even good old-fashioned navel contemplation, which was all the rage in white letters-were not something to be tolerated.

Fred Beauford is the author off four novels, including The King of Macy's and The Year Jerry Garcia Died.


Fred Beauford

Editor-in-Chief/publisher



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Neworld Review
Vol. 1 No 1

Editor-in-Chief/publisher

Fred Beauford

Art Director

Bernie Rollins

Managing Editor

Jan Alexander

Editor-at-Large

Margaret Johnstone

Senior Editor

Herb Boyd

Contributing Editors

Jane M McCabe: books
James Petcoff: theater
Rona Edwards:film
Russell Burge: visual arts
Loretta Campbell
Brenda M. Greene
Madeleine Mysko

The Neworld Review is a publication of Fred Beauford, 3183 Wilshire Blvd,
Suite 196,
Los Angeles, CA. 90010.

Material in this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission. Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers.

Manuscripts should be accompanied by a self-stamped envelope. Online submissions are accepted at literarylife1@hotmail.com.

Neworld Review cannot be held responsible for unsolicited photographs or manuscripts.

All correspondence to:

Fred Beauford
Editor-in Chief/Publisher

Neworld Review
3183 Wilshire Blvd,
Suite 196,
Los Angeles, CA. 90010


E-mail




This Issues's Articles

INTERVIEW


INVISIBLE MAN REVEALED


BY HERB BOYD

Dr. Arnold Rampersad is one of the nation's foremost biographers. His two-volume study of the life of Langston Hughes, his book on Jackie Robinson, and his work with Arthur Ashe....Read More

REPORTING



Ralph Ellison and the Militants

By Peniel E. Joseph, Ph.D


Ralph Ellison's starcrossed relationship with black militants who changed and provocatively challenged America's racial landscape seems almost....Read More

REVIEWING



A LIFE EXAMINED

BY JOE JOHNSON


Ralph Ellison: A Biography

By Arnold Rampersad

In a period of middle of the twentieth century, with the publication of Invisible man, Ellison had completed a difficult journey and made an important.....Read More

REVIEWING


A New Voice from Inside Islam

Infidel

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Free Press, 20077

REVIEWED BY JANE M. MCCABE

The late Orianna Fallaci's (1930-2006) last clarion call was to alert Westerners to the danger of making too many concessions to Muslim immigrants and to warn us that the ultimate goal of radical Islam is....Read More

REVIEWING


The Girl With The Golden Shoes

By Colin Channer


The Girl Who Knew Too Much

REVIEW BY BRENDA M. GREENE


Colin Channer's novella, THE GIRL WITH THE GOLDEN SHOES, set in pre World War II, is part bildungsroman, part moral fable. The cultural landscape for the novella is a mythical island in the Caribbean, a cross....Read More

REVIEWING


On Chesil Beach

By Ian McEwan


Altered States

REVIEW BY JAMES PETCOFF


N CHESIL BEACH, Ian McEwan's new novel centers around Florence and Edward on their wedding day, in July 1962.....Read More

BEYOND BOOKS (Theater)


Lloyd Richards:
Teacher, Director, Friend

BY WOODIE KING, JR.


When Lloyd Richard died in New York City, June 29, 2006 on his 87th birthday, the American theatre lost one of the most influential Black theatre artists of the last century. Lloyd's enlightenment....Read More

BEYOND BOOKS (Film)


Rona's Reel Take:
Seen Any Good Movies Lately?


BY RONA EDWARDS


When Fred Beauford asked me to write a column on film for the Neworld Review, I thought it was a no-brainer. After all, I'm a film producer living in the hub of Hollywood, and....Read More

BEYOND BOOKS (Short Fiction)


Under Water


BY JAN ALEXANDER


When I was six my father brought home a fishbowl. Look out for the inhabitants, he said. You can play Neptune in their microcosm of the sea. My father planted a seabed of purple gravel....Read More

BEYOND BOOKS (Dance)


Belly Dancing Excitement at Egypt's Oriental Dance Festival


By Tahma


Cairo--For almost a decade, belly dancers from all over the world have been making the pilgrimage to this Mecca of the dance, Cairo, Egypt, for an annual festival called....Read More