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Rotten English: A Literary Anthology written by Dohra Ahmad


Rotten English: A Literary Anthology written by Dohra Ahmad


A global anthology of fiction and poetry in vernacular English.

Rotten English spans the globe to offer an overview of the best non-standard English writing of the past two centuries, with a focus on the most recent decades. What would once have been derogatorily termed "dialect literature" has come into its own in a language known variously as slang, creole, patois, pidgin, or, in the words of Nigerian novelist Ken Saro-Wiwa, "rotten English."

The first anthology of its kind, Rotten English celebrates vernacular literature from around the English-speaking world, from Robert Burns, Mark Twain, and Zora Neale Hurston to Roddy Doyle, Jonathan Safran Foer, and M. NourbeSe Philip. With concise introductions that explain the context and aesthetics of the vernacular tradition, this anthology pays tribute to the changes English has undergone as it has become a global language.


A global anthology of fiction and poetry in vernacular English.

Shannon PetersonCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information. - School Library Journal

Adult/High School
This collection of vernacular poetry, short stories, novels, and essays poignantly addresses complex issues of language and power. Most of the selections were created in the late 20th or early 21st century, but Ahmad includes pieces that clearly demonstrate the sociopolitical contexts that give birth to, and resulting thematic cohesiveness of, vernacular writing, which has sprouted all over the world. As she describes in her concise introduction, the key characteristic of vernacular writing is its anti-institutional stance. By confronting complex linguistic histories arising from colonialism and peeling through layers specific to mainstream culture (slavery, nationalism, immigration), the authors represented here are able to at once name their own oppressors and reclaim personal authenticity and power. Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldúa illustrates this beautifully when she says that "I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent's tongue-my woman's voice, my sexual voice, my poet's voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence." Perhaps the most powerful point that this collection effectively emphasizes is the fluidity of vernacular writing and its inherent ability to empower both author and readers. By validating "alternative" voices, languages, and experiences, the authors create a space for new perspectives, fresh dialogue, and countless new communities. This, coupled with the approachability of the works presented here, makes the book a natural fit for teens.

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