“The 21 short stories it gathers, arranged chronologically, grow more somber and complex over time. [...] Coleman’s perspective extends and challenges conventional notions about the settings, characters and themes of early 20th- century African- American fiction. Her work is entertaining for the general reader and historically significant for the scholar.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“The present collection of intriguing stories, which often emphasize the importance of racial solidarity and the black family, helps to extend the geographical boundaries of the Harlem Renaissance.”--Choice
Though Anita Scott Coleman was born in Mexico and reared in New Mexico, her stories appeared frequently in The Crisis and other leading journals of the Harlem Renaissance. Reflecting and illuminating the movement’s major themes, her often award-winning stories, delicate and understated, offer subtle commentary on the status of black women, their role in black society, and the position of African Americans in an overwhelmingly white society.
As a young woman in New Mexico, Anita Scott graduated from New Mexico Teachers College and enjoyed a brief teaching career until she married. Later she moved to California, where despite her distance from Harlem she wrote her last nine published stories, polished examples of the Renaissance’s finest short fiction, including “Unfinished Masterpieces.” As one by one the journals of the Harlem Renaissance ceased publication, Coleman’s career itself remained regrettably unfinished. By 1960, when she died at age seventy, the literary legacy of this masterful southwestern storyteller was forgotten.
What Champion and Glasrud have recovered in this collection is more than Coleman’s complete collected short fiction. It is a road map of African American life in the Southwest and West during the movement’s glory days, etching not only indelible glimpses of character and culture but also the farthest reaching evidence of the Harlem Renaissance’s success in sharing ideals and goals across a nation.