About Harlem Renaissance: Four Novels of the 1930s (LOA #218)
HARLEM RENAISSANCE: Four Novels of the 1930s traces the flowering of the Renaissance in diverse genres and forms. It opens with Langston Hughes’s Not Without Laughter (1931), an elegantly realized coming-of-age tale that follows a young man from his rural origins to the big city. Suffused with childhood memories, it is the poet’s only novel. George S. Schuyler’s Black No More (1931), a satire founded on the science fiction premise of a wonder drug permitting blacks to change their race, skewers public figures white and black alike in a raucous, carnivalesque send-up of American racial attitudes. Considered the first detective story by an African American writer, Rudolph Fisher’s The Conjure-Man Dies (1932) is a mystery that comically mixes and reverses stereotypes, placing a Harvard-educated African “conjureman” at the center of a phantasmagoric charade of deaths and disappearances. Black Thunder (1936), Arna Bontemps’s stirring fictional recreation of Gabriel Prosser’s 1800 slave revolt, which, though unsuccessful, shook Jefferson’s Virginia to its core, marks a turn from aestheticism toward political militancy in its exploration of African American history.
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