The History of Literature #291 – The Book of Firsts (with Ulrich Baer and Smaran Dayal)

291 The Book of Firsts (with Ulrich Baer and Smaran Dayal)

Ever wonder who wrote the first play in the North American colonies? Or who was the first published African American poet? Or what year it was when an Arab American first published a novel in the United States? Or who wrote the first published gay-themed poetry in America? The answers to all of the above might surprise you – sometimes because they’re earlier than you expected, and sometimes because they’re later. Sometimes the “first” comes from a famous writer, and sometimes the authors have been completely overlooked or forgotten. But in every case, seeing what a “first” looks like expands our understanding of what came before, what came after, and what it means for us today.

In this episode, Jacke talks to Ulrich Baer and Smaran Dayal, editors of an exciting new anthology Fictions of America: The Book of Firsts, which focuses on the literary pioneers who broke barriers, inaugurated new traditions, and proved that the diverse imagination and creative efforts of a wide range of individuals helped forge a nation.

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