In addition to being a poet, fiction writer, playwright, and essayist, Langston Hughes was also a globe-trotting cosmopolitan, travel writer, translator, avid international networker, and--perhaps above all--pan-Africanist. In Cultural Entanglements, Shane Graham examines Hughes's associations with a number of black writers from the Caribbean and Africa, exploring the implications of recognizing these multiple facets of the African American literary icon and of taking a truly transnational approach to his life, work, and influence.
Graham isolates and maps Hughes's cluster of black Atlantic relations and interprets their significance. Moving chronologically through Hughes's career from the 1920s to the 1960s, he spotlights Jamaican poet and novelist Claude McKay, Haitian novelist and poet Jacques Roumain, French Negritude author Aimé Césaire of Martinique, South African writers Es'kia Mphahlele and Peter Abrahams, and Caribbean American novelist Paule Marshall. Taken collectively, these writers' intellectual relationships with Hughes and with one another reveal a complex conversation--and sometimes a heated debate--happening globally throughout the twentieth century over what Africa signified and what it meant to be black in the modern world. Graham makes a truly original contribution not only to the study of Langston Hughes and African and Caribbean literatures but also to contemporary debates about cosmopolitanism, the black Atlantic, and transnational cultures.