Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape

(Editor) (Foreword by)

Product Details

Scarecrow Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.1 X 1.0 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Keenan Norris is a novelist, scholar, and educator. He received the 2012 James D. Houston Award for his novel Brother and the Dancer (2013).


Norris and contributors (academics, authors, poets, editors, musicians, and a lawyer) broaden the definition of urban literature while drawing a distinction between African American and hip-hop literature and emphasizing the differences between classic African American literature and street literature. This title offers a course in the genre in 16 signed essays with references and bibliographies; six poems by Tristan Acker, Debra Busman, Sterling Warner, Arisa White, and Juan Delgado; and interviews with authors Lynel Gardner, David Bradley, and Ethan Iverson. The poems are each one to two pages long, the essays four to 18 pages, and the interviews two to 16. A few black-and-white photos appear in Ana Lúcia Souza and Jacqueline Lima Santos's essay on Brazilian hip-hop. A cumulative bibliography and detailed index round out the presentation. VERDICT Since it is a relatively new literary genre, little expository material has been published on urban or street literature, making this affordable title of interest to literature students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.--Library Journal
Norris provides an introductory survey of the new, fast growing genre of street lit--also referred to as urban fiction, hip-hop lit, and gangsta lit. It is made up of edgy stories focusing on personal relationships and survival of the fittest. In this volume Norris provides readers with articles, essays, interviews, and poems that capture the spirit of this edgy literature. Making its appearance in the 1950, the genre draws readers who tend to be young, African American, and female. Urban fiction is characterized by stories of life on the streets and in the projects using brutal descriptions of drugs, violence, sex, abuse, and prison. The work begins with an introduction that explores the roots of this literature and provides insight into how it captures today's culture in much the same way that hip-hop music does for the music industry. The author provides critical discussions of works by Goines, Japer, and Whitehead, and gives interviews with such literary icons as David Bradley, Gerald Early, and Lynel Gardner. Norris helps scholars, avid readers, and librarians understand the significance of this sometimes controversial but up-and-coming form of literature.--American Reference Books Annual
The foreword alone, by Omar Tyree, makes this book a must for fans both 'true to the game' (as streetlit vernacular would state) of the genre and 'new to the game' alike. Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape serves as a history lesson of the genre in its various forms, tracing the trajectory of slave narratives from the Donald Goines and Iceburg Slim era to the days of Flyy Girl (1993) and The Coldest Winter Ever (1999) to today's vociferous offerings from the powerhouse urban-literature publishers Triple Crown and Urban Books.The book is made up of essays deftly divided into three sections that invite discussion and reflection: 'Street Literature in America, Past and Present'; 'Early Street Lit, 1950s-1970s'; and 'Contemporary Street Lit, 1990s and 2000s.' These essays take a hard, honest look at the way street lit is marketed, packaged, promoted, and perceived by its intended audience and by those on the outside looking in on a slice of modern street life. The book includes an index as well as an extensive bibliography of articles and accessible book lists of notable works that best represent this popular genre. Although the content is aimed at an academic library audience, this would make a good choice for public library literary criticism shelves, and librarians interested in developing street-lit collections will want to add this title to their professional reading lists.--Booklist