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This week at The Paris Review, we’re celebrating Black History Month by highlighting African American writers in our archive. Read on for Maya Angelou’s Art of Fiction interview, Edward P. Jones’s short story “Marie,” and Toi Derricotte’s poem “Peripheral.”
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Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119
Issue no. 116 (Fall 1990)
I try to pull the language in to such a sharpness that it jumps off the page. It must look easy, but it takes me forever to get it to look so easy. Of course, there are those critics—New York critics as a rule—who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.