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If He Hollers Let Him Go
     

If He Hollers Let Him Go

5.0 4
by Chester Himes, Graham Hodges (Introduction)
 

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This story of a man living every day in fear of his life for simply being black is as powerful today as it was when it was first published in 1947. The novel takes place in the space of four days in the life of Bob Jones, a black man who is constantly plagued by the effects of racism. Living in a society that is drenched in race consciousness has no doubt taken a

Overview

This story of a man living every day in fear of his life for simply being black is as powerful today as it was when it was first published in 1947. The novel takes place in the space of four days in the life of Bob Jones, a black man who is constantly plagued by the effects of racism. Living in a society that is drenched in race consciousness has no doubt taken a toll on the way Jones behaves, thinks, and feels, especially when, at the end of his story, he is accused of a brutal crime he did not commit. "One of the most important American writers of the twentieth century ... [a] quirky American genius..."—Walter Mosley, author of Bad Boy Brawly Brown, Devil in a Blue Dress "If He Hollers is an austere and concentrated study of black experience, set in southern California in the early forties."—Independent Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Sacred Fire
With his first novel, Chester B. Himes secured his place in the vanguard of the emerging young black writers of his time who were honestly detailing the rigors of black life in America. Unlike his contemporaries Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, Himes was not a writer with overt political concerns. His novel does, however, delve into the existential cost that black men had to pay for the racism around them: that they had to live constantly, absurdly aware of the color of their skin.

Bob Jones's story is a simple one told in clear, direct prose. All Bob wants is "to be accepted as a man—without ambition, without distlnction, either of race, creed, or color." But in the 1940s and 1950s, nothing was simple between blacks and whites. Bob quickly finds himself losing his hopes and ambitions as he is crushed beneath the weight of racism and discrimination. His life spins out of control until he hates everyone around him: the blacks fbr being powerless to change their lives; the whites for taking advantage of them. Bob Jones is every black man at that time, who was, every day, walking a tightrope of racial tension, except Bob falls, pushed by a loose blonde who kissed him, then framed him on a rape charge.

If He Hollers Let Him Go is a masterpiece for its bitter and honest portrayal of the life of a normal black man in America, and it speaks to any person who has felt, at some time or other, that the or she has had enough abuse on account of the color of their skin. Himes demonstrated in the person of Bob Jones that one of the most critical rights that black people have been denied is the right to just live their lives unbothered and unmolested and to follow their impulses and desires with no greater reward or punishment than nature's laws of cause and effect.

The indignity of it, the gutting of my pride, what a nigger had to take just to keep on living in this goddamned world. The cold scared feeling started damping down on me; it nailed me to my seat, weak and black and powerless.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560250975
Publisher:
Da Capo Books
Publication date:
08/17/1995
Pages:
203
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.59(d)

Meet the Author

Raised in a segregated Missouri and Cleveland, Chester Himes (1909-1984) began his remarkable writing career writing short stories and magazine articles from prison. Once released, he began working at a shipyard, which he used as the basis for his most famous novel, If He Hollers, Let Him Go. He eventually settled in Paris, where he penned most of his Harlem Detective hardboiled novels.

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If He Hollers Let Him Go: A Novel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Philena More than 1 year ago
I'm a white woman struggling to remove the veil of prejudice that I acquired over the years of growing up in a rural mid-western town and too many years of exposure to mass media and "white-washed" K-12 textbooks. This is an excellent novel by an African-American author living and writing about life in the U.S. during World War II. It is excellent. Reviewed and recommended by my niece, a 24-year-old, bi-lingual 5th year college student. This is a story about the honor, integrity, intelligence and insight of some humankind. It's about struggle and resiliency, and honor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic. It tells about how hard it is for the black man living in the white man's world and it is still relevant today. The man can write. Old school flava.
SDW1 11 months ago
Chester Himes is best known for his excellent Harlem Detective series from the 1950’s and 60’s. His first novel was ‘If He Hollers Let Him Go’, written in the 1940’s and takes place late during WWII. Its story tells of four days in the life of Bob Jones, a black man who lives in fear of the racism that engulfs him. Dealing with and fearing the consequences of racism takes over his life, his dreams, his ambitions, his actions, his every move. He works hard to become a foreman in the shipyards where he works supervising other black men, but the littlest thing can and does trip him up. When Bob experiences racism, you experience it with him feeling the anger, desperation and hopelessness. His character is so well written it feels like he’s standing next to you and sharing his thoughts directly with you. At times ‘If He Hollers Let Him Go’ is harsh and difficult to read. But this book is so well written you will hold your breath waiting to find out the fate of Bob. The dialogue crackles and at times slaps you in the face. If you are someone who doesn’t get the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, read this book. Of course all lives matter, but if you’re white like I am we haven’t had to deal with the racism that many people of color still deal with way too often. During the 1940s when this story takes place, a black man saying or doing the wrong thing to a white man could be your death. This is a pretty great and important book.
XavierA More than 1 year ago
This is a very down-to-earth book. This novel illustrates the emotions that go along with racism in a relatable way that all races can understand. The novel also focuses on several types of people: the blacks who hate white people, the blacks who want to be white people, and the various degrees of racist white people, from those who don't mind dealing with black people to those who would beat a black person to death in an instant. The book is interesting because it leaves no one 'right.' Every character's stance on the issue of racism is challenged in this book and, in turn, so are its audience's. Reading this book will leave you thinking about your own biases and lifestyle, definitely. The plot is fair and cohesive. None of the plot's movement felt forced, except for one (It becomes insignificant very soon after it happens). The point of the book is really the racial issues, though. All in all, this book will make you feel for Bob Jones, the main character, and you will learn something about yourself, too.