John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism

Overview

John Oliver Killens’s politically charged novels And Then We Heard the Thunder and The Cotillion; or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd, were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His works of fiction and nonfiction, the most famous of which is his novel Youngblood, have been translated into more than a dozen languages. An influential novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and teacher, he was the founding chair of the Harlem Writers Guild and mentored a generation of black writers at Fisk, Howard, Columbia, and elsewhere. ...

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Overview

John Oliver Killens’s politically charged novels And Then We Heard the Thunder and The Cotillion; or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd, were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His works of fiction and nonfiction, the most famous of which is his novel Youngblood, have been translated into more than a dozen languages. An influential novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and teacher, he was the founding chair of the Harlem Writers Guild and mentored a generation of black writers at Fisk, Howard, Columbia, and elsewhere. Killens is recognized as the spiritual father of the Black Arts Movement. In this first major biography of Killens, Keith Gilyard examines the life and career of the man who was perhaps the premier African American writer-activist from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Gilyard extends his focus to the broad boundaries of Killens’s times and literary achievement—from the Old Left to the Black Arts Movement and beyond. Figuring prominently in these pages are the many important African American artists and political figures connected to the author from the 1930s to the 1980s—W. E. B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Alphaeus Hunton, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Harry Belafonte, and Maya Angelou, among others.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Gilyard’s affection and admiration for his subject shine through his words without falling into hero worship. This book certainly deserves consideration for college Black Studies courses, as well as a place in any African American Studies library collection."--ForeWord Reviews

“I congratulate Keith Gilyard for bringing to life, in the pages of this absorbing book, a figure of genuine importance who certainly deserves a full-scale biography.”—Arnold Rampersad, author of Ralph Ellison: A Biography

“John Oliver Killens is a genius of the South, and Keith Gilyard has honored this youngblood, civil rights and union activist, novelist, dramatist, and screenwriter in a superb biography. Gilyard’s engaging written voice draws us into a dramatic and important life, and his deep commitment to the highest standards of research inspires our trust and admiration. John Oliver Killens ably documents and brings to life the yearnings and accomplishments of a major figure in our national literature.”—Rudolph P. Byrd, Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies, Emory University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820335131
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 6/30/2010
  • Pages: 456
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Keith Gilyard is distinguished professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. A White Man's Republic, 1915-1928
Chapter 2. Avoiding the River, 1928-1936
Chapter 3. Mr. Killens, 1936-1942
Chapter 4. Chasing the Double Victory, 1942-1945
Chapter 5. None as Radical as Mickey Mouse, 1945-1948
Chapter 6. The Efficacy of Struggle, 1948-1949
Chapter 7. A Colored Man Who Happened to Write, 1949-1951
Chapter 8. The Poetry, Energy, and Convictions, 1951-1954
Chapter 9. Mr. Youngblood, 1954-1955
Chapter 10. Stalking the Truth, 1955-1957
Chapter 11. Rights and Rites, 1958-1959
Chapter 12. Journey to Genesis, 1959-1961
Chapter 13. Thundering Genius, 1961-1963
Chapter 14. It Doesn't Hurt to Review, 1963-1964
Chapter 15. Statesmanlike Work, 1964
Chapter 16. In Residence, 1965-1966
Chapter 17. Explaining Dissent, 1966-1967
Chapter 18. New Black, 1967-1968
Chapter 19. We Must Construct a Monument, 1968-1969
Chapter 20. Champeenship of Blackness, 1970-1971
Chapter 21. Long-Distance Running, 1971-1974
Chapter 22. I Always Said Class and Race, 1974-1977
Chapter 23. Pushing Pushkin, 1977-1982
Chapter 24. For Freedom, 1982-1986
Chapter 25. Dr. K's Run, 1986-1987
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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