Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writing by Women of Africa Descent (1992) is a must read/have for anyone interested in the works of women writers from Africa and across the African Diaspora. The editor, Margaret Busby, has compiled an impressive and staggering collection of writings (poems, short stories, novel excerpts, folktales, songs) for this ground-breaking book.
The writers in this collection are all women of African descent from Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and North and South America. The works are arranged chronologically from ancient Egypt thru to the 20th century. And so there are pieces from the Eqyptian Queen Hatchepsut, slave narratives by 19th-Century writers, earlier African women writers (that I had no idea existed), and of course a heavy helping from contemporary authors such as Toni Morrison, Jamaica Kincaid, Aminata Sow Fall, and Olive Senior. Really, it would be quite the task to list all the authors listed in the compendium.
The writings are all a delight to read, and that is not an exaggeration. The issues covered are diverse. They are sad, funny, and insightful and all bear witness to the many types of lives and of living by women of African descent. The book also attests to the incredible talent and force evident in the works of these women. I remember when I got my book way back when, how incredibly proud and validated I felt. Even now, I’m apt to pull it off my shelves and just read a work or two when the mood takes me.
Daughters of Africa was published in 1992 and so is missing writings from new writers, such Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Fortunately, the editor has announced that she is working on a new and updated edition. Unfortunately, the book is currently out of print. There seems to be no available explanation for this. Such a shame. But I do urge interested readers to buy a used copy or to check it out of their library if it is available. It is a well-researched and an extraordinary collection and will be a valuable addition to anyone’s library. It remains the ultimate guide to women writers of African descent. Magnificent and highly recommended.