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"Faith, Folklore, and Fun: Spirituality, Folk Magic, and Folk Practices in Black America" by Francisco Rodriguez

Jaime Bergeron ... -- Tue, 08/29/2023 - 10:33am

Every culture possesses a body of traditional knowledge and patterns of behaviors which are utilized to navigate the many windfalls, challenges, and vicissitudes of the world and African Americans, with their long, complex, and multi-layered history of presence in the US are no exception. Ernest Gaines, as an ingenous capturer of the experience of Black Americans in this country then and now, utilizes his inherited traditions to great effect in his stories to better illustrate and contextualize these lives.

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"Black Southern Femininity in 'A Lesson Before Dying'" by Melanie Johnson

Jaime Bergeron ... -- Tue, 07/11/2023 - 8:43am

In Ernest J. Gaines' A Lesson Before Dying, many things strike me having finished the book. One thing in particular is the way the novel ends with a bittersweet moment of hope despite the profound unfairness of Jefferson, an innocent Black man's execution at the hands of the state in rural 1940's Louisiana. The novel's protagonist, Grant Wiggins and the white sheriff's deputy, Paul are able to see the humanity in each other despite being on opposite sides of the social spectrum and law. That said, the female characters in the novel are arguably the most complex and interesting.

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"The Black Barbershop in 'The Tragedy of Brady Sims'" by Hailey Hanks

Jaime Bergeron ... -- Mon, 07/10/2023 - 2:51pm

In 2017, two years before his death, Ernest J. Gaines published The Tragedy of Brady Sims, a novella that opens with the titular character shooting and killing his newly convicted son in the Bayonne courthouse. Unlike his earlier work—especially A Lesson Before Dying, A Gathering of Old Men, and The Autobiography of Miss Jane PittmanBrady Sims has yet to be brought into many scholarly discussions, a gap which seems reflective only of time and certainly not of the novella’s richness and depth.

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