Last weekend, in the midst of a conversation about Toni Morrison’s 1987 novel, Beloved, I mentioned that there are Morrison references in every book I’ve written. This is true of a number of writers who have been highly influential to me. And it is part of what I mean when I say that I am writing “in the tradition.” But the singular the is a bit deceptive. Like many other writers, I write at the crossroads of literary traditions: English, southern, American, feminist, and Black. But there is a particularity to the African American literary tradition, bearing inheritances from the West and the Continent (as we often refer to Africa), as well as the particularity of being Black and modern people in the West.

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