Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing

Pimping Fictions: African American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing

by Justin Gifford
     
 

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"Lush sex and stark violence colored Black and served up raw by a great Negro writer," promised the cover of Run Man Run, Chester Himes' pioneering novel in the black crime fiction tradition. In Pimping Fictions, Justin Gifford provides a hard-boiled investigation of hundreds of pulpy paperbacks written by Himes, Donald Goines, and Iceberg Slim (aka…  See more details below

Overview

"Lush sex and stark violence colored Black and served up raw by a great Negro writer," promised the cover of Run Man Run, Chester Himes' pioneering novel in the black crime fiction tradition. In Pimping Fictions, Justin Gifford provides a hard-boiled investigation of hundreds of pulpy paperbacks written by Himes, Donald Goines, and Iceberg Slim (aka Robert Beck), among many others.

Gifford draws from an impressive array of archival materials to provide a first-of-its-kind literary and cultural history of this distinctive genre. He evaluates the artistic and symbolic representations of pimps, sex-workers, drug dealers, and political revolutionaries in African American crime literature-characters looking to escape the racial containment of prisons and the ghetto.

Gifford also explores the struggles of these black writers in the literary marketplace, from the era of white-owned publishing houses like Holloway House-that fed books and magazines like Players to eager black readers-to the contemporary crop of African American women writers reclaiming the genre as their own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The ambiguous title of University of Nevada–Reno English professor Gifford’s groundbreaking study of the “art and business of black crime literature” is ingenious in its embrace of elements of street literature from historical and literary perspectives along with the culture of the writers who produce it, the commercial enterprises that publish it, and the “white-controlled spaces” they occupy and must negotiate. Chronologically structured, Gifford pays particular attention to Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines, Joseph Nazel, Players magazine, and the emergence of women writers like Vickie Stringer and Sister Souljah whose female protagonists can “con, exploit, and outfox their male and female rivals.” Providing counterpoint to analyses of creative productions, Gifford attends to two divergent milieus. At one end are America’s black prisoners, those within and the alums who are historically the writers and the consumers; at the other, the publishing industry, with particular focus on the rise and decline of Holloway House (the creation of two white Hollywood publicists) and the growth of self-publishing and independent black imprints. In exploring how these writers, little noticed by academia or mainstream media, negotiate the connection between white-controlled spaces in urban centers, prisons, and publishing, Gifford makes a persuasive case for their importance. 9 b&w illus. Agent: Matthew Carnicelli, Carnicelli Literary Management. (Feb.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439908112
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
01/25/2013
Edition description:
American Literatures Initiative
Pages:
216
Sales rank:
942,361
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Justin D. Gifford is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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