quiz answers


African-American Literature - The Answers.


Test your knowledge of African-American Literature – nothing the least bit obscure or esoteric; classics, one and all. So if you’ve read your Toni Morrison and know that the Harlem Renaissance doesn’t refer to Bill Clinton’s moving in, you’re on your way.   

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Name the novel/autobiography/memoir:

1. Structured as a series of vignettes revolving around the origins and experiences of  African-Americans in the U.S. (Karintha, Carma, Esther, etc.),  alternating between passages of prose, poetry, and play-like dialogue, this experimental, composite novel is considered a classic of High Modernism. 
Cane by Jean Toomer

2. Protagonist Janie Crawford takes up with Jo Stark and settles in Eatonville, Florida - the United State’s first (very real) all-black community – before heading off to Jacksonville and the Everglades, eventually settling back down in Eatonville.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

3. Conforming to the conventions of literary Naturalism, this novel tells the story of a 20-year-African American, a product of the extreme poverty of Chicago’s South Side ghetto of the 1930s, who accidentally kills a white woman.
Native Son by Richard Wright

4.  My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light. I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York than this hole of mine, and I do not exclude Broadway.
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

5. Set in Greenwich Village in the late 1950s, African-American jazz drummer Rufus Scott begins a relationship with a white woman from the South, which causes chaos and a confusion of sexual identity.
Another Country by James Baldwin

6.  This powerful autobiography tells what it was like to grow up black in Mississippi, beginning with the author’s childhood and taking us through the civil rights movement of the 60s. First line:  “I’m still haunted by dreams of the time we lived on Mr. Carter’s plantation.”
Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody

7. After I returned to prison, I took a long look at myself and, for the first time in my life, admitted that I was wrong, that I had gone astray – astray not so much from the white man’s law as from being human, civilized . . . My pride as a man dissolved and my whole fragile moral structure seemed to collapse, completely shattered. That is why I started to write.  To save myself.
Soul on Ice Eldridge Cleaver

8.  Set for the most part in Stamps, Arkansas, this 1969 autobiography recounts the author’s childhood with her grandmother in the blatantly racist, poverty-stricken South of the 1930s, as well as the story of her rape by her mother’s boyfriend; memorable for the author’s resilience, determination, and achievement of personal freedom.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

9. Every night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes.  Fervently, for a year she had prayed.  Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope.  To have something as wonderful as that happen would take a long, long time.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

10. Pulitzer-Prize winning novel written in the form of diary entries and letters by the poor, uneducated young black woman Celie; ultimately showing, through all the trials and tribulations, the power of women coming together, making it a feminist classic.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker

11. Set on the Georgia sea island of Willow Springs, where people still use only herbal medicine and honor ancestors who came over as slaves, this 1988 novel follows a matriarch who can call up lightning storms and see secrets in her dreams.
Mama Day Gloria Naylor

12. 1990s novel centering around four black, thirtysomething women who support each other professionally and personally; title refers to their collection anticipation of exhaling only when they have achieved satisfying relationships with a man.  Adapted for film in 1995.
Waiting to Exhale Terry McMillan

13. Set in the ghettos of Oakland, California, this “ultimate post-rap novel” tells the story of  gang warfare, racial tension and drug-running, told from the point of view of the teen gang members.  First line:  “Gordon! GUN!” screamed Curtis, diving off his skateboard onto trash-covered concrete.”
Way Past Cool by Jess Mowry

14.  Twenty-first century Pulitzer-Prize winning historical novel set in antebellum Virginia, told from many points of view,  examines issues regarding the ownership of black slaves by free black people as well as white people.
The Known World by Edward P. Jones

A bit of poetry, if you please.  Name the poet:

I read in the papers about the
            Freedom Train.
I heard on the radio about the
            Freedom Train.
I seen folks talkin’ about the
            Freedom Train.
Lord, I been a-waitin’ for the
            Freedom Train!
Langston Hughes, from Freedom Train

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool.  We
Left School. We
Lurk late.  We
Strike straight.  We
Sing sin.  We
Thin gin.  We
Jazz June.  We
Die Soon
Gwendolyn Brooks,  We Real Cool

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being
ready to kill
instead of your children.
Audre Lorde, from Power

And three short stories . . .  Name the author and story:

18. Set in the rural South of the 1930s, this often anthologized story follows a day in the life of 8-year-old James, who travels with his mama to a nearby town to see a dentist for a toothache.
Ernest J. Gaines, “The Sky is Gray” 

19. From a Pulitzer-Prize winning collection, this title story centers around Paul Frost, a white man who opted out of the Vietnam War as a conscientious objector, and Virginia Valentine, the black woman whom he marries.
James Alan McPherson, “Elbow Room” 

20.  Winner of the 2000 O. Henry Award, this story is a son’s tribute to a mother who has struggled to care for her children under the most adverse circumstances.  “My mother believes in a god whose goodness would not permit him to inflict more troubles than a person can handle.  A god of mercy and salvation. A sweaty, bleeding god presiding over a fitness class in which his chosen few punish their muscles. She should wear a T-shirt:  God’s Gym.”
John Edgar Wideman, “Weight”