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dem
     

dem

by William Melvin Kelley, John Wright (Introduction), John S. Wright (Foreword by)
 

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Originally published in 1967, dem is a classic of the Black Arts Movement. This surrealistic satire lays bare the convoluted and symbiotic relationship between whites and blacks. Coffee House Press is pleased to bring back into print this widely unavailable work.
Upper-middle-class Manhattanite Mitchell Pierce and his wife Tamara enact the twists and

Overview

Originally published in 1967, dem is a classic of the Black Arts Movement. This surrealistic satire lays bare the convoluted and symbiotic relationship between whites and blacks. Coffee House Press is pleased to bring back into print this widely unavailable work.
Upper-middle-class Manhattanite Mitchell Pierce and his wife Tamara enact the twists and turns of human relationships in this startling fable about the intersections of race, class, sex, love, and marriage. Kelley questions the nature and validity of subjective realities as he examines the constraints and consequences of prejudice.
Mitchell is convinced he has it made. With advancement at work, an attractive wife, and a comfortable apartment, he has achieved the 1960s version of the white man’s American dream. Then, slowly but surely, that dream becomes a nightmare, and Mitchell can’t seem to wake up. Did he really find his boss’s wife and children dead in an upstairs bedroom of their suburban home? Did his wife really become pregnant after a brief fling with their black maid’s boyfriend?
Notable as a satiric portrayal of white characters from an African American perspective, this milestone achievement tugs at our ability to suspend disbelief and forces us to reexamine stereotypes from the past and current images in America’s racial divide.
William Melvin Kelley’s other books include the novels A Different Drummer, A Drop of Patience, Dunfords Travels Everywheres, and the short story collection, Dancers on the Shore. Kelley attended the Fieldston School and Harvard, where he studied under Archibald MacLeish and John Hawkes. He lives in Harlem, is a professor of Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and regularly teaches seminars at the Taos Institute of Art in Taos, New Mexico.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Kelley's 1967 novel is here reprinted as part of the press's Black Arts Movement Series: books from the resurgence of African-American literature during the '60s and early '70s. For this edition, John Wright provides a long scholarly introduction placing the novel in its historical context. On dem's first appearance, Kirkus (July 15, 1967, p. 828) noted its episodic form, and its racial schematics, especially in the fourth section, in which a woman gives birth to twins, one black and one white. Overall, though, "some very good writing carries along the excess of symbolism." Finding it more contrived than Kelley's other work, we found it also "more angry," as well as a "powerful and delicate handling of a heavy theme and an unwieldy plot."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566891028
Publisher:
Coffee House Press
Publication date:
02/01/2001
Series:
Black Arts Movement Series Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

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