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PODCAST: Lawrence Jackson Discusses Biography of Black Author Chester Himes

September 17, 2017 1 comment

In Lawrence Jackson’s monumental biography, CHESTER B. HIMES, readers are introduced to one of the most prolific and underrated Black writers of the 20th century.   Himes, who lived from 1909-1984, was the author of 17 novels and numerous short stories.  Himes was a black literary realist who used fiction to honestly express the rage he felt at racism, despite the criticism of some of his contemporaries that his perspective was too bleak.  It was his Harlem detective novels that paved the path for enduring financial success as two of those novels were made into movies in the 1970s, Cotton Comes to Harlem and Come Back Charleston Blue.

Lawrence P. Jackson is a Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University and also the author of RALPH ELLISON: Emergence of Genius.

 

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Justin Gifford Explores the Crime Fiction of Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines, and Others in Pimping Fictions

April 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Justin Gifford was nominated this year for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for Best Critical/Biographical Book for Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing. Interviewing Gifford, who is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Nevada, Reno, is a great follow-up to my interview with Megan Abbott in late 2012 about her book The Street Was Mine, which featured a chapter on Chester Himes.

Growing up in New Orleans in the 1970s, Blaxploitation films were a staple of the movie diet of me and my peers. What I’m interested in are the connections between movies like Coffey, The Mack, and Superfly with the literature of Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines and the gangsta rappers like NWA, Ice T, Jay Z and the late Notorious BIG.

The interview with Gifford will air April 7 at 8am CST.

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Would There Be a Walter Mosley without Chester Himes? Listen to the Podcast

February 2, 2013 Leave a comment

cotton comes to harlemIf I mix my love of Black History Month with my love of crime fiction what do I come up with? The author Chester A Rage in HarlemHimes, probably best known for writing Cotton Comes to Harlem and A Rage in Harlem, both books that were made into movies. His detective novels were set in Harlem in the 1950s and 1960s, and featured NYPD detectives Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Jones. He was the first author to feature Black detectives as the main characters in hard boiled novels.

In 2002 award winning crime fiction author Megan Abbott, wrote a book about hard boiled crime fiction and film noir, The Street Was Mine, which concluded with a chapter on Chester Himes. I interviewed Megan Abbott with help from Evelyn Martin-Anderson, a transplanted New Yorker who was the founder of an Austin poet group, The Catfish Society. Many thanks to the Richard Glasco State Farm Agency (512-250-5533) for sponsoring this podcast. To listen to the 20 minute interview click here: Megan Abbott Interview on Chester Himes.