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Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile by Myriam J.A. Chancy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997, 246 pp., $19.95 paper.
Together, these three books show an evolving canon of feminist criticism dedicated to increasing the foundation of knowledge concerning African-descended women as writers and activists. The editors/authors of the books under review show how oppressed women writers build a revolutionary force based on transforming their silence into language and action.(1) Each work possesses its own unique style and consideration for relaying its points about how language can be used to oppress or empower. Each author/editor seems to recognize the need to move beyond the claustrophobic boundaries of theoretical jargon and useless information to provide facts, suggestions, and innovative insights in a provocatively accessible manner.
The books are high quality tools of transformation. All three publications reveal the way gender and race interact with social, historical, and cultural factors to influence political and individual identities and the struggle for empowerment, change, and revolution. Two of the books, Lee's and Chancy's, move beyond U.S. cultural and social perspectives of language and silence, while Perkins and Stephens's anthology focuses its examination to address the way women's voices impacted early U.S. theater and culture.
Valerie Lee, author of Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers, is an associate professor of English and Women's Studies at Ohio State University. Lee's book examines a dual culture performance in literature, which she aptly calls "double-dutched readings." Reaching back into the cultural and literary heritage of African American women, Lee engages the reader in the act of turning the literary ropes of texts and contexts for black women writers and their growing voices.
Lee's study concerns itself with the literary recovery of granny midwives and their significance to …