Favorable Review of Scholarship on Toni Cade Bambara’s novel, The Salt Eaters

Many thanks to UNC-Wilmington’s Christopher Dennis for his favorable review of my essay on Toni Cade Bambara’s novel, The Salt Eaters. About the essay, he writes:

Finally, the book’s eighth chapter, “The Challenge of Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters: (Re)Claiming Wholeness,” offers a new perspective on a relatively contemporary novel. In this essay, Ashley David argues that Bambara’s book has been marred by claims of inaccessibility, which has displaced the text’s underlying theme of everything/and wholeness. She asserts that dominant interpretation has failed to recognize “Bambara’s overarching project, which defines wholeness as broadly inclusive and which makes a case for humanity’s ongoing evolution of consciousness” (163). The novel is contextualized within the 1980s and the emergence of identity politics, which partly explains the prevalence of piecemeal interpretations along racial or gender lines, for example. According to David, while Bambara acknowledged the importance of racial matters, she most likely hoped that critics would eventually move beyond piecemeal understandings in order to arrive at the concept of everything/and wholeness. Her conjecture about what the author expected from her readership largely comes from her analysis of Barbara’s essays, “What It Is that I Think I’m Doing Anyhow” and “Deep Sightings and Rescue Missions.” Although neither David nor Bambara would suggest the need to disregard race completely, this essay suggests an interesting way of trying to imagine a better, more harmonious, world for all of humanity: “…although many scholars, critics, and readers, have defined “us” in terms of the African American community, a community which Bambara clearly embraced and championed with and through her work, much of the evidence seems to suggest…that “us” ultimately includes the species and the planet” (170). Although the essays in this volume overwhelmingly focus on diversity and difference, David’s reading of Bambara’s novel is unique in that the underlying message is the need also to recognize and embrace human interconnectedness.

For Dennis’ complete review of the volume in which my essay appears, The Future is Now: A New Look at African Diaspora Studies, Vanessa Valdés, ed., check out Black Diaspora Review 3(2) Winter 2012/13. And, to order the book, check out Cambridge Scholars Press, Amazon, etc.

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