This February, I will be honoring black history month here at this blog. I will be reviewing four haunted house novels written by black women. I could use the phrase “African American” women, but that technically would not be correct, because one of the authors is a British woman of African descent. This begs the question: is black history month primarily concerned with the history of people of color as it plays out on the American stage? I don’t know the answer.
I am a Caucasian; a white guy. As such it’s not my place to define what black history month is or isn’t. Likewise, I most certainly cannot claim a shared heritage and realistically identify with the struggles my black brothers and sisters have endured or the triumphs they have celebrated. Therefore, unlike previous reviews and articles that were grouped into a theme (i.e. Christmas Haunted Houses, Haunted Apartments), I do not begin with a central concept. I am not seeking to extract characteristics that define what a haunted house is from the black perspective. Rather, these four works stand alone. Perhaps when all is said and done, when I have completed the readings and written the reviews, I might have more to say about any possible interrelated themes. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, nor do I wish to engage in any inappropriate analysis for the sake of some sort of self-congratulatory intellectualism. I hope I will not do that anyway.
I guess the question is: Can we learn about authentic black history from mostly fictional novels that delve into the paranormal? I believe we can.
Of the four works, three are fictional stories and one is a factual account. The non-fiction book deals with popular “ghost tour” houses in the American south. This book uncovers a lot of African-American history and sets the record straight about the tourist-magnet fabrications that come at the expense of the “real” ghosts that haunt these places. One of the fictional novels is set in “current” times (post Y2K) but segments of the story go back to the 1920s. Another fictional novel takes place in the years following the American Civil War, although much of the story occurs during the times of slavery. Both books show how history has affected and shaped the lives of the central characters. Though the histories are fictional, they are based on real-life historical circumstances. And, of course, both stories feature haunted houses. The fourth book, also fictional, has very little in the way of history. This book presents quite the quagmire when trying to assign a definition to it. It’s about a haunted house, but it isn’t. It’s about the politics of identity, but it isn’t. It’s…ah, just wait for the review.
I guess I could be more straightforward and just mention ahead of time the titles of the books and their respective authors, but I want there to be some kind of suspense. So..just wait. You will know soon.
Anyway, I hope this will go well, and I hope you will find this subject matter enlightening and educational
See you soon!