This introductory chapter sets out the book's purpose, which is to offer a historicized account of why problems of racial representation take the specific forms they do in African–American fiction since the 1970s, why these problems are magnetized around issues of urban community, and why tropes of the book have become a chosen literary vehicle for exploring these problems. It draws on a wide range of materials from urban geography, history, sociology, political science, literary and cultural criticism, and media and technology studies to substantiate the claim, central to this book, that problems of racial representation are taking exacerbated forms in the postmodern era. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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