"The Fishes and the Poet's Hands": Frank Yerby, a Black Author in White America
Glasrud, Bruce A., Champion, Laurie, Journal of American & Comparative Cultures
A best-selling, exceptionally popular black American author, albeit one of the most maligned and misunderstood writers of the twentieth century (similar in many respects to his male contemporary Chester Himes)1, Frank Yerby experienced five varied phases in his literary career. The author of historical romances, known as the "King of the Costume Novel,"2 criticized for not exploring race issues, and ignored when he did, Yerby was castigated and condemned by both black and white critics and both affected the directions of his writing. Undoubtedly, the dual nature of these critical reviews elicited alternating responses from Yerby-one moment he emphasized (at least indirectly or covertly) race issues, the next he wrote without a racial bent.
Ironically, as a student at Fisk University in the late 1930s, Yerby foretold his problems as a black author in white America in a poem published in the Fisk University journal, The Fisk Herald. As for all black authors during this time the dilemma was who to address-a white or black audience. Black authors such as Yerby and Himes, who tried to write for both audiences, often received unrelenting negative criticism. Yerby points out this situation, which became a vital aspect of his life, in a poem that alludes to an earlier significant white poet. Yerby's poem "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands" (1938)3 reveals the horrid death of renowned poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose body was burned on the beach after he had drowned. Yerby begins his poem by reminding the reader:
They say that when they burned young Shelley's corpse ...the noise his brains Made as they boiled and seethed within his skull Could well be heard five yards away.
Yerby infers that Shelley was a successful white poet who was already dead when his brains boiled. "No one," Yerby continues, "can hear mine as they boil." Yerby concludes that Shelley "could not feel his bum, so I think/He had the best of it at that. Don't you?" Yerby insinuates that whereas blacks are tortured and burned alive, whites are burned only after death in a sort of celebratory cremation.
Born and raised in the Georgia community of Augusta, of middle class parents, Yerby acquired a first-rate education, culminating with a Master's degree at Fisk University and an additional year of doctoral study at the University of Chicago. He then taught at two colleges in the South and worked in defense industries in the North. While busy with these activities, he also wrote and continued to publish short stories. In 1944, he published "Health Card," which received the distinguished national O' Henry Memorial Short Story Award; in 1946, he published the best-selling novel The Foxes of Harrow; and in 1947, The Vixens. In 1952, no longer willing to tolerate the forbidding racial climate of the United States, Yerby moved to Europe and soon settled in Spain. Arguing that it is the novelist's job to entertain, Yerby successfully accomplished that goal in the minds of over fifty million readers who purchased his books.4
Stories about Frank Yerby and his readers abound. One that we recently were told by the owner of The Book Gallery in El Paso, Texas, concerns a woman who faithfully purchased one of Yerby's books every year. When the Gallery owner informed her that Yerby was black, she looked astonished and refused to buy any more of his books. Perhaps Darwin T. Turner best captures part of the reason for Yerby's success in his observation that Yerby managed to convey in print "the somber hint that man's life is a joke played by a merciless and senile deity" (571)5. Yerby accomplished more though, as a review of the phases/stages of his writing life reveals. Ultimately, Yerby published thirty-three novels, with sales of over fifty-five million books. His last novel, McKenzie's Hundred, was published in 1985, six years before his death in 1991 at the age of seventy-six.
The first phase of Yerby's writing career coincides with the publication of his poem "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands." As a college student, Yerby published poems and short stories while attending Paine College in Georgia and Fisk University in Tennessee.6 During this stage his writing vacillates-as it does during his entire career-between writing non race-based works, including two short stories along with several published poems, and writing works that express concern about racism and discrimination. This protest/passive dualism, two distinct types of writing, reflects Yerby's anguish that resulted from the dilemma of "divided audience"-writing for both blacks and whites.7 Yerby's frustration was intense, apparent in works such as the poem "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands" and the 1937 short story "A Date with Vera," both of which concern racial issues. The dilemma was painful for Yerby, as he notes in his poem, "no one can hear mine as they boil." On one occasion in the latter work, the bitter, anti-white protagonist watches his girl friend Vera evince a friendly disposition toward whites, and he decides to adopt a more passive attitude also. As "Vera" indicates, even within one story, Yerby sometimes shows his protest/passive dualism. After depicting race issues, Yerby describes the other end of this protest/passive dualism: "then I get up and write/A very pretty sonnet, nicely rhymed." Indicative of the latter, "raceless" type of writing8 are his poems (other than "Fishes"), including "Wisdom" (1937), and his short stories, "Young Man Afraid" (1937) and "Love Story" (1937), which Yerby wrote during this initial phase of his literary career.
During the second phase of Yerby's writing career, he heard the poetic voices of "all the hungry broken men" standing "beside my bed like ghosts" who cry: "why don't/You shout our wrongs aloud? Why are you not/Our voice, our sword?" Yerby acceded to the clamor, and during the 1940s he published six poignant, bitter, and wrenching short stories that realistically portray race relations in the United States. Although sometimes referred to as "protest" stories, that phrase does not do justice to the overreaching analysis of racism and discrimination emanating from Yerby's stories. As the "broken men" in his poem relate, "you are of our blood;/You've seen us beaten, lynched, degraded, starved." His stories tackle these issues. For example, "Health Card," published in Harper's Magazine (1944), emphasizes the degradation of a black soldier and his visiting wife.
Three of Yerby's short stories have been reprinted in anthologies, and the other three, just as deserving, need to be collected and made more available to the reading public.9 In one uncollected story, "White Magnolias" (1944), a conflict arises when a white southern girl invites a black girl to afternoon tea. Although well-educated, well-dressed, and well-mannered, the black girl is not welcomed by the white girl's parents. As the story demonstrates, white convention imposes a limitation on the kind of life that blacks can live in the South. At the story's end, the white girl picks the petals from a white magnolia flower, symbolically picking apart the long cherished concept of white southern womanhood. The black girl says "thank you," then runs down the path. Yerby craftily made his points. As reflected in "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands," an aspect of Yerby's 1940's stories is his notion that
Men must be taught that other men are not Mere pawns in some gigantic game in which The winner takes the gold, the land, the work, The breath, the heart, and the soul of him who loses!
Yerby, as did Chester Himes, attempted both to reach and to teach about the evils of the current race situation in the United States; this approach makes his stories both politically effective and tragically ignored,
During this stage Yerby also wrote a race-based novel that follows the confrontational spirit of his short stories. The novel, set in a northern steel mill, presents a black man who is a steel worker as well as successful boxer, and exposes the problems of being an independent black man in racially-biased white America. Referred to as a "Richard Wrighteous" protest novel in a Time (1954) article, Yerby originally wrote it as a story for a Redbook Magazine contest-- he did not win. He also could not get it published-- white publishing houses thought it too incendiary-- and he eventually destroyed it, as reported by James L. Hill (3), probably by burning it.
As a result of his failure to publish his novel, and with few exceptions receiving little critical acclaim for his short stories, Yerby began to write highly popular, best-selling novels set in the southern United States that focus specifically on white southerners and incidentally and covertly on black/white relations. These works are representative of the third phase of Yerby's writing career. Categorized as historical romances, or termed "costume novels" by Yerby, these novels were instant successes, beginning in 1946 with The Foxes of Harrow, which was adapted to film.10 The publication history of The Vixens (1947) is a prime example of being a black author in a white world. Originally written as Ignoble Victory (which both Yerby and his editor maintained was his best novel), in order to publish the work Yerby eliminated strident tone and characters, reduced race issues, and published a "costume novel," The Vixens. Yerby's historical novels of the South, written between the years 1946 and 1962, generally cover the time periods of the Civil War, Reconstruction, or its Aftermath during the 1880s and 1890s. Perhaps Hill's elucidation of this stage most clearly articulates Yerby's historical fiction: "in actuality, he subordinated the protest aim of his fiction to his formula for historical romance, and enlarging his protest motives and taking aim at the inaccuracies of Southern history, he became one of America's greatest debunkers of historical myths" (206).11
Yerby was able to succeed commercially as a genre writer. Written to a formula, these wellresearched novels portray white southerners as ruthless, as scoundrels, as immoral-certainly the opposite of the white southern representation of the white south. If, for example, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind (1936) depicts the idyllic, romantic South, Yerby portrays the obverse, and more accurate, rendition of the violent and merciless white South. Yerby's portrayal of black southerners also does not conform to the old southern romanticized and stereotyped portraits that have been perpetuated by writers such as Thomas Nelson Page. Yerby's black southerners are real people, not supportive of O1' Massa or of childlike or carefree blacks who smile even though brutalized.
On the other hand, not all the novels written during these years adhere to the above pattern. Of the eighteen novels Yerby published during these years, twelve are set in the South and at least covertly deal with race issues. As before, he vacillated-perhaps a novel on the South, such as A Woman Called Fancy (1951), then a non-United States and non-race novel, such as The Saracen Blade (1952). Whether this was for his or the readers release remains somewhat unclear, although most likely it was from his own uncertainty, as predicated in his 1930s poem. Ironically, and regrettably, despite Yerby's overwhelming successes with his historical romances (especially those set in the South) among the general population, critics were not favorable. Some black critics lamented the lack of race protest, while white and black critics ridiculed the formula-driven plots. Because he was unable both to succeed as a writer and to express political and social concerns, Yerby felt as if he were a mere pawn "in some gigantic game in which/The winner takes.. /The breath, the heart, and soul of him who loses!" To a certain extent, Yerby felt that despite the commercial success of his novels, he had failed as an artist, and as he wafted in his poem, "You see, this is ironical and light/Because I am so sick, so hurt inside."
Yerby, so sick and so hurt that during the fourth phase of his writing career he wrestled anew with the direction his work should take. It was at this time, for example, when asked about not confronting United States racial issues, he argued in interviews (perhaps tongue-in-cheek?) that it was not the duty of novelists to advocate social or political issues. This, after all, was the period of intense civil rights and black power activity in the United States, and Yerby could not help but be captured by its spirit. In fact, for 1963 publication Yerby submitted "The Tents of Shem" to his publisher. A civil rights novel set in small town New York, "The Tents of Shem" was considered by Yerby to be his best novel until late in his career. As Yerby stated in an interview with Hill, "I thought it was a good book, and it was a very well done book. It was one of the most skillfully written of my earlier novels" (238). Yet, in what must have been devastating, his novel was not accepted for publication (he also unsuccessfully revised it in 1969).11
As a result, Yerby ended his dilemma by refraining from mentioning race at all in his four mid-sixties novels, and during this volatile historical era in the United States Yerby wrote historical fiction set in other parts of the world, and/or in much earlier historical epochs-The Old God's Laugh: A Modern Romance (1964), An Odor of Sanctity: A Novel of Medieval Moorish Spain (1965), Goat Song: A Novel of Ancient Greece (1967), and Judas, My Brother: The Story of the Thirteenth Disciple (1969)-without mentioning or considering issues of race. It is interesting to note that all four novels include subtitles that reveal that their topics are not race related. As Yerby reflects in his poem,
then I get up and write A very pretty sonnet, nicely rhymed About my latest love affair, how sad I am because some dear has thrown me for A total loss.
These comments reflect his ideas about his non-- racially based historical romances. His novels continued to sell well, but the critical attacks seemed to take a toll on Yerby. However, the possibility for new directions in the future could be noted in a 1966 interview with Yerby that Hoyt Fuller published in Ebony. Entitled "Famous Writer Faces a Challenge," Fuller's interview reported Yerby's search for new approaches or concepts-"to write novels of significance"-away from the costume novels (188). Ultimately, Yerby did not move so far from historical romances, but he did change directions as a writer.
During the fifth and final phase of Yerby's writing career, disappointment from critical attacks and failure to publish "The Tents of Shem" are mirrored by the poetic feelings "I'm tired of pretty rhyming words when all/The land where I was born is soaked in tears/ And blood, and black and utter hopelessness." As a result he resolves in his poem that
Now I would make a new, strong, bitter song, And hurl it in the teeth of those I hateI would stand tall and proud against their blows, Knowing I could not win, I would go down Grandly as an oak goes down, and leave An echo of the crash, at least, behind.
For this effort, Yerby turned to his ancestral roots, and published three novels that explored race issues: Speak Now (1969), The Dahomean (1971), and A Darkness at Ingraham's Crest: A Tale of the Slaveholding South (1977). In the latter story, Yerby's sequel to The Dahomean, the African protagonist is captured and taken to the southern United States as a slave. Although not "protest" novels, the main characters, settings, and concepts represent Africans and African Americans. A number of critics consider The Dahomean to be Yerby's finest work. But, as he knew, despite his effort, the success of the novels, and the favorable critical comments, he "could not win."
During this phase of his novel writing, however, it is important to remember that he frequently vacillated-he usually worked on projects that differed from the bulk of what he was writing. For example, when he wrote the three race based novels mentioned above, he also wrote four novels that have almost nothing to do with race-including the popular A Rose for Anna Maria (1976) and Hail the Conquering Hero (1977). Two of the last three novels he wrote are what can only be described as "western" in genre-- Western: A Saga of the Great Plains (1982) and Devilseed (1985). Apparently, Yerby saw no need to put blacks on the Great Plains, for in only one brief instance in Western does he mention a black family in his saga. Yerby's penultimate novel, Devilseed, is set in the West, and in one marvelous chapter Yerby portrays as one of his characters black San Franciscan, Mary Ellen Pleasant-not, as he points out, "Mammy," as racist whites sometimes referred to her.
His last book, published in 1985-McKenzie's Hundred-indicates how far Yerby had developed as a writer and as a person. Set during the Civil War, he pokes fun at and debunks Clement Vallandigham and the northern Copperhead conspiracy, discusses the New York draft riots, points out the role of prominent New York newspapers in fomenting the anti-black riots, and devastatingly portrays white actions. Yerby refers to the riots as "duly primed by a megalomaniacal monster" (261). Perhaps the most gruesome and horrid scene painted by Yerby depicts whites shooting at black adults who carry babies and young children and images of children's faces exploding from the force of bullets as whites laugh. No one writes any more powerful "protest" literature than these last works of Frank Yerby. As he remarked in an understatement to Hoyt Fuller, "it's quite possible to say something in the historical novel" (192). The much maligned Georgia native, Frank Yerby, made "a new, strong, bitter song,/And hurl[ed] it in the teeth of those" he hated. Basically, he refers to white racists and perhaps also black and white literary critics.
As Frank Yerby concludes his poem, so too did he foretell his writing career's conclusion; as he stated, (So Shelley lived-and so at last, he died. The fishes ate his glorious hands; and all
That mighty bulk of brain boiled when they burned him!) Both Shelley and Yerby were burned, and their brains boiled, Shelley literally and Yerby figuratively. However, as Yerby points out in his poem, it hurt him more because Shelley was already dead when he burned.
Undoubtedly, Yerby might have chosen from among numerous white male poets against whom to contrast black powerlessness and lack of opportunity. Significant about the choice of Shelley is Shelley's famous 1821 dictum in "A Defense of Poetry" that "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."" Shelley uses the phrase to suggest that political change is wrought through art; "unacknowledged" for Shelley means not credited in the same manner as a politician for social, economic, and political progress. However, the phrase, when applied to black American authors signifies that they are unacknowledged for their artistic abilities regardless of whether or not their art makes political statements. Like Shelley, Yerby confirms his belief in using literature as a means for social and political progress-that is, "protest" literature.
Even if not written for the purpose, and if not necessarily written for posterity, Frank Yerby's poem "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands" depicts the difficulty faced by authors such as Frank Yerby and Chester Himes (as Yerby turned to historical romances, Himes turned to detective stories)" during the mid-portion of the twentieth century. To or for what audience should they write? Whatever the answer, it seemed incorrect, and fostered pain and anguish in the author. At the beginning of the twentieth century, W. E. B. Du Bois, in his Souls of Black Folk best stated the situation, when he affirmed that one ever feels his two-ness,-an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. (17)
In his essay, Du Bois also emphasizes the importance of opportunity (or the lack thereof):
he simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face. (17)
Du Bois was not alone in tackling the issue of lack of opportunities for African Americans. Frank Yerby's contemporary, Chester Himes, phrases the problem somewhat differently in his informative essay, "Dilemma of the Negro Novelist in the United States": as Himes asserts, for the novelist
to delineate the degrading effects of oppression will be like inflicting a wound upon himself. He will have begun an intellectual crusade that will take him through the horrors of the damned. And this must be his reward for his integrity: he will be reviled by the Negroes and whites alike (53).15
Himes's comments fit quite well his and Yerby's careers. Somewhat more indelicately, Frank Yerby pointed out in an interview with Hill his belief that who you've got to convert is the bigot, not the semiliberal. And I was trying to get to the bigots; I was trying to get to the nigger-haters. I got to some of them ... I made some of that kind of people think, you know. But, on the general level, that kind of thing is bound to fail. (211)
In his poem "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands," Yerby foretells the overall effects of his attempts to challenge racism in his writings-"I would stand tall and proud against their blows,/Knowing I could not win." Despite that in his lifetime it sometimes seemed as if he "could not win," he eventually overcame the obstacles placed upon him because he was a black writer in white America. His literary career traversed five stages and although he frequently received negative criticism, Frank Yerby published thirty-three novels, debunked southern history, portrayed black
Americans in realistic, non-stereotypical roles, protested their treatment, and sold over 55 million copies of his books. Yerby did "go down/Grandly as an oak goes down," and left "an echo of the crash... behind." Finally the echo of this highly popular writer is being heard.
'There are numerous comparisons that one might make about the literary careers of Frank Yerby and Chester Himes: 1) both were born in the South, 2) both gained stature via the short story, 3) both wrote excellent "protest" fiction, 4) both tried to reach and teach blacks and whites, 5) both received negative criticism from blacks as well as whites, 6) both adopted different genres in order to become commercially successful, 7) both relocated to Europe, 8) both were highly successful novelists, 9) both, after their deaths, began finally to receive respectful attention, 10) both, in order to placate white readers and publishers, removed issues of race from at least one book.
2Maryemma Graham, "Frank Yerby, King of the Costume Novel," Essence 6 (Oct. 1975): 70-71, 88-92; Frank Yerby, "How and Why I Write the Costume Novel," Harper's 219 (Oct. 1959): 145-50. James L. Hill, "Between Philosophy and Race: Images of Blacks in the Fiction of Frank Yerby," UMOJA 4 (Fall 1980): 5, referred to Yerby's depiction of these novels as "costume romances." Others refer to these novels as "historical romances."
'Frank Yerby's poem, "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands," was first published in The Fisk Herald, and has been included in at least three anthologies-Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, eds., The Poetry of the Negro: An Anthology, 1949 (New York: Doubleday, 1970): 33233; Arna Bontemps, ed., American Negro Poetry (New York: Hill and Wang, 1963): 134-35; and Lillian Faderman and Barbara Bradshaw, eds., Speaking for Ourselves: American Ethnic Writing (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1969): 74-75.
4Although too often ignored by scholars, studies of Frank G. Yerby have been completed, including William W. Hill, "Behind the Magnolia Mask: Frank Yerby as Critic of the South" (Master's thesis, Auburn University, 1968); Laura Ferguson Middleton, "Shifting Perspectives: A Reevaluation of Frank Garvin Yerby" (Master's thesis, Baylor University, 1996); Jack B. Moore, "The Guilt of the Victim: Racial Themes in Some Frank Yerby Novels," Journal of Popular Culture 8 (Spring 1975): 747-56; Gwendolyn D. Morgan, "Challenging the Black Aesthetic: The Silencing of Frank Yerby," Florida A and M University Research Bulletin 35 (Sept. 1993): 19-30; and Gloria Cecilia Runton, "The Life and Novels of Frank
Garvin Yerby: A Bio-Bibliography" (Master's thesis, Florida State University, 1959). For an insightful, recent analysis see Louis Hill Pratt, "Frank Garvin Yerby (19161991)," Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-- Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, ed. by Emmanuel S. Nelson (Westport, CT: Greenwood P, 1999): 505-11.
5Turner was one of the first to comment astutely on Yerby's goals. Darwin T. Turner also wrote "The Dahomean," Black World 21 (Feb. 1972): 51-52, 84-87; Frank Yerby: Golden Debunker," Black Books Bulletin 1 (1972): 4-9; "Judas, My Brother," Negro Digest 18 (April 1969): 80-82; and "The Negro Novelist and the South," Southern Humanities Review 1 (1967): 21-29.
6Beginning as a seventeen year old, Yerby sent and published poems in Dorothy West's magazine, Challenge-two in 1934 ("Miracles" and "Brevity"), two in 1935 ("To a Seagull" and "Drought"), and one in 1936 ("Three Sonnets"). However, these were "raceless" efforts.
7For studies that discuss the dilemma of "divided audience" as manifested from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century, see Sterling A. Brown, "The Negro Author and His Publisher," Negro Quarterly 1.2 (1942-43): 7-20; James Weldon Johnson, "The Dilemma of the Negro Author," American Mercury 15 (1928): 477-81; James Weldon Johnson, "Negro Authors and White Publishers," Crisis 36 (1929): 313-17; John Oliver Killens, "Introduction: The Smoking Sixties," Black Short Story Anthology, ed. Woodie King, Jr. (New York: Columbia UP, 1972). xi-xviii; J. Saunders Redding, "The Negro Author: His Publisher, His Public and His Purse," Publishers Weekly 147 (1945): 1284-1288; J. Saunders Redding, "The Negro Writer and American Literature," Anger, and Beyond: The Negro Writer in the United States, ed. Herbert Hill (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). 1-19; J. Saunders Redding, "The Problems of the Negro Writer," Massachusetts Review 6 (1964-65): 57-70; John A. Williams, "Black Publisher, Black Writer: An Impasse," Black World 25 (1975): 28-31; Charles Scruggs, " `All Dressed Up but No Place To Go': The Black Writer and His Audience During the Harlem Renaissance," American Literature 48 (1976): 543-63; John Edgar Wideman, "Preface," Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction, ed. Terry McMillan (New York: Viking, 1990). v-x.
8Frank Yerby, "Wisdom," Arts Quarterly 1 (July-Sept. 1937): 34; Frank Yerby, "Love Story," The Paineite (Feb. 1937): 15-16. On his poem "Wisdom," see Alan C. Lupack, "Frank Yerby's `Wisdom,"' Notes on Contemporary Literature 7.4 (1977): 8.
9The three stories that have been reprinted are "Health Card," To Be A Black Woman: Portraits in Fact and Fiction, ed. by Mel Watkins and Jay David (New York: William Morrow, 1970): 57-68; "My Brother Went to
College," Black American Literature: Essays, Poetry, Fiction, Drama, ed. by Darwin T. Turner (Columbus: Charles E. Merrill Publishing, 1970): 375-84; and "The Homecoming," African American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology, ed. by Al Young (New York: HarperCollins, 1996): 150-57. Yerby's other three stories of this era are "The Thunder of God," "White Magnolias," and "Roads Going Down."
10Transforming his book into a movie was a challenge to Yerby; see Phyllis R. Klotman, "A Harrowing Experience: Frank Yerby's First Novel to Film," College Language Association Journal 31 (Dec. 1987): 210-22.
11Hill, a student of Darwin Turner, has become the primary scholar of Yerby's career and works. In addition to the items referenced in other footnotes, see "The AntiHeroic Hero in Frank Yerby's Historical Novels," Perspectives of Black Popular Culture, ed. Harry B. Shaw (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State U Popular P, 1990): 144-54.
12A summation of the manuscript can be found in Hill, "Anti-Heroic Perspectives," 189-92. The unpublished manuscript of "The Tents of Shem" is located in the Yerby Manuscript Collection at Boston University. Also see Hill, "An Interview with Frank Garvin Yerby," 238.
13For a copy of his comment, see Percy Bysche Shelley, "A Defense of Poetry," The Norton Anthology of English Literature, ed. E. Talbot Donaldson, et al (New York: W. W. Norton, 1962): 794.
14It is interesting to realize a vital difference in the methods of Chester Himes and Frank Yerby- in Himes last novel, Plan B, blacks devise a plan to kill whites; in Yerby's last novel, McKenzies Hundred, set in the past, whites plan to kill blacks.
15For background on Chester Himes, see Bruce A. Glasrud and Laurie Champion, "Chester B. Himes (19091984)," Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-- Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson (Westport, CT: Greenwood P, 1999): 203-10.
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Fuller, Hoyt A. "Famous Writer Faces a Challenge." Ebony 21 (June 1966): 188-194.
Glasrud, Bruce A. and Laurie Champion. "Chester B. Himes (1909-1984)." Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook. ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport: Greenwood P, 1999.203-10.
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Himes, Chester. "Dilemma of the Negro Novelist in the United States." Beyond the Angry Black. ed. John A. Williams. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1966. 51-58.
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-. Hail the Conquering Hero. New York: Dial P, 1977. -. "Health Card." Harper's Magazine 188 (May 1944): 548-53.
-. "The Homecoming." Common Ground 6 (Spring 1946): 41-47.
-. "How and Why I Write the Costume Novel." Harper's 219 (Oct. 1969): 145-50.
-. Judas, My Brother: The Story of the Thirteenth Disciple. New York: Dial P, 1969.
-. "Love Story." The Paineite (Feb. 1937): 15-16.
-. McKenzie's Hundred. Garden City: Doubleday, 1985.
"My Brother Went to College." Tomorrow 5 (Jan. 1946): 9-12.
An Odor of Sanctity: A Novel of Medieval Moorish Spain. New York: Dial P, 1965.
The Old Gods Laugh: A Modern Romance. New York: Dial P, 1964.
"Roads Going Down." Common Ground 5 (Summer 1945): 67-72.
A Rose for Anna Maria: A Novel. New York: Dial P, 1976.
-. The Saracen Blade: A Novel. New York: Dial P, 1952. -. Speak Now: A Modern Novel. New York: Dial P, 1969.
-. "The Thunder of God." The New Anvil (April/May 1939): 5-8.
The Vixens. New York: Dial P, 1947.
-. Western: A Saga of the Great Plains. New York: Dial P, 1982.
-. "White Magnolias." Phylon 5 (1944): 319-26.
-. "Wisdom." Arts Quarterly 1 (July 1937): 34.
-. A Woman Called Fancy. New York: Dial P, 1951.
-. "Young Man Afraid." The Fisk Herald 31 (Oct. 1937): 15-16.
Bruce A. Glasrud is Professor of History and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Sul Ross State University. He is a specialist in United States ethnic and regional history, with particular emphasis on African Americans in the wester United States.
Laurie Champion is Assistant Professor of English at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley. She is a specialist in the short story in American literature, with particular emphasis on blacks and women in the southern and western United States.
Champion and Glasrud have collaborated on other publications, including The African American West: A Century of Short Stories (Colorado).…
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Publication information: Article title: "The Fishes and the Poet's Hands": Frank Yerby, a Black Author in White America. Contributors: Glasrud, Bruce A. - Author, Champion, Laurie - Author. Journal title: Journal of American & Comparative Cultures. Volume: 23. Issue: 4 Publication date: Winter 2000. Page number: 15+. © American Culture Association Fall 2001. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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