In Writing Across the Color Line: U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-1920 (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), Lucas A. Dietrich investigates how ethnic literatures took shape in the U.S. context and how writers of color intervened in the “mainstream” writing. Interestingly, this intervention was framed through specific genres and techniques, including satire and parody towards the mainstream narratives. The book brings our attention to the most prominent ethnic writings of the second half of the nineteenth century while taking into consideration the negotiations in which both the writers and the publishers participated. What is compelling about this research is the dialogical approach that Dietrich undertakes to explore the ways in which the ethnic writers were, in fact, accepted into what could be described as the dominant mainstream writing of white writers. Writing Across the Color Line contains rich materials which demonstrate not only how the writers of color established dialogue with the leading publishing venues, but also how their works shaped the American readership of the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. Dietrich also offers his insights concerning the influences of the nineteenth-century ethnic writers on their counterparts of the twentieth century. In this regard, Writing Across the Color Line: U.S. Print Culture and the Rise of Ethnic Literature, 1877-1920 is a thought-provoking commentary on multiethnic literature in the U.S.
Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed is a PhD student in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures.