Siemerling’s book has the gravitas of a textbook, Madera’s the precision of a poem. Together they announce a new era for literary studies of the African diaspora, one which borrows from the capaciousness of Atlantic and hemispheric geographies while embarking on a pointed return to the specificities of place and nation. Madera offers a theory of the geographic imaginary, teaching us to interpret the worlds authored and inhabited by African Americans in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Siemerling expounds a canon of black Canadian literature so immense that the book itself seems to tilt the axis northward. Yet both authors keep a close eye on the Caribbean, a region formative for many Canadian writers and important within many of the nineteenth-century novels Madera explores.

It makes perfect sense that the Atlantic Ocean emerged as an emblematic epicenter for the cultural forms...

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