by Lawrence R. Rodgers
University of Illinois Press, 1997
Cloth: 978-0-252-02304-0 | Paper: 978-0-252-06605-4
Library of Congress Classification PS374.N4R57 1997
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.009896073

      The Great Migration--the exodus of more than six million blacks from
        their southern homes hoping for better lives in the North--is a defining
        event of post-emancipation African-American life and a central feature
        of twentieth-century black literature. Lawrence Rodgers explores the historical
        and literary significance of this event and in the process identifies
        the Great Migration novel as a literary form that intertwines geography
        and identity.
      Drawing on a wide range of major literary voices, including Richard Wright,
        Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, as well as lesser-known writers such
        as William Attaway (Blood on the Forge) and Dorothy West (The Living Is
        Easy), Rodgers conducts a kind of literary archaeology of the Great Migration.
        He mines the writers' biographical connections to migration and teases
        apart the ways in which individual novels relate to one another, to the
        historical situation of black America, and to African-American literature
        as a whole.
      In reading migration novels in relation to African-American literary
        texts such as slave narratives, folk tales, and urban fiction, Rodgers
        affirms the southern folk roots of African-American culture and argues
        for a need to stem the erosion of southern memory.