About the BookThe Great Migration is a defining experience of post-emancipation African American life and a central feature of twentieth-century Black literature. Lawrence R. Rodgers explores the historical and literary significance of the event and identifies the Great Migration novel as a literary form that intertwines geography and identity.
Rodgers draws on iconic literary voices like Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, but also includes lesser-known writers William Attaway and Dorothy West. By mining the writers' biographical connections to migration, he teases apart how individual novels relate to one another, to the historical situation of Black America, and to Black literature as a whole. Rodgers also relates migration novels to literary texts like slave narratives, folk tales, and urban fiction, affirming the southern folk roots of Black culture and arguing for us to stem the erosion of southern memory.