Multigenerational Novels

By Elizabeth Cali

Multigenerational novels foreground the storylines of multiple generations of family and/or community members as a primary narrative structure of the work. Margaret Walker’s neo-slave narrative Jubilee (1966) serves as a touchstone example of multigenerational novels in African American literature. This structure is especially crucial in African American literary studies as themes of historical and cultural recovery and memory are crucial aspects of this literary field. In terms of structure, such novels also facilitate the non-linear storytelling practices that became especially central to African American women writers’ stylistic approaches since the late 20th century.