I am excited to announce the release of Fictions of America: The Book of Firsts, co-edited with Smaran Dayal. This unprecedented compendium of milestones in the history of American literature presents “first” literary works that broke barriers and inaugurated new traditions. One can now read these firsts together and see a history of the United States that no other book has made available before.
Each November since 1961, the Wall Street Journal publishes an excerpt from the 1620 Plymouth Colony records under the title "The Desolate Wilderness," culminating in this line: "Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men?"
Fictions of America gathers texts by all the first writers--all bold pioneers in their own right-- who present a truer history of who we are as an idea and as a nation than what this excerpt says.
The book celebrates the pathbreaking contributions of often overlooked literary innovators who, through bold self-expression and often against inconceivable odds, helped create what we call America today. As the first in various groups to publish literature in America, they prove that the imagination of diverse authors is one of the most powerful forces in shaping our nation.
I am happy to announce that we debuted to unanimously positive reviews.
Robert Reid-Pharr of Harvard University writes: "Fictions of America: The Book of Firsts collects together for the first time the initial offerings of some of the country’s most significant writers. The ensemble reminds us that, our many differences notwithstanding, we are all continually striving, experimenting, smashing shibboleths, and waiting for yet another fresh voice and pioneering talent to make itself known."
Junot Díaz, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, writes: “Fictions of America is absolutely essential; what a transformative reading experience. My first reaction upon finishing it: if only I had this extraordinary volume when I was younger. Second reaction: I am so grateful to have it now.”
As we prepare for our release, I will be interviewing several experts on literary "firsts" that are featured in the book on my podcast, Think About It. An episode on Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, the first Native American woman poet, with Professor Robert Dale Parker, is now available. For more information, please find @warblerpress on Instagram and Twitter. My handle on twitter is @UliBaer; on instagram: uli.baer.
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