If He Hollers Let Him Go: A Novel

If He Hollers Let Him Go: A Novel


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A powerful story of racism that's as pertinent today as when the book was first published

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781560254454
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 09/03/2002
Series: Himes, Chester
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 206,155
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

Chester Himes was the author of numerous novels, short stories, essays, and two films. Himes, who began writing while serving a prison term for jewel theft in the early 1940s, is best known for his angry social criticism in books like If He Hollers Let Him Go and Lonely Crusade and for his memorable Harlem detective novels.

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If He Hollers Let Him Go: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 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.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting of this novel is Los Angeles during World War II. The main character, Bob Jones, is an African-American man, who gets a job at a defense shipyard there, and is the narrator of this story. Bob is, in fact, the supervisor of a small crew of other African-Americans. The action takes place just after the forced internment of Japanese-Americans in California, which kind of sets the stage for how Bob sees himself as a black man in white Los Angeles. He's also in a situation where, because most of the able-bodied men have gone off to war, there's an influx of laborers, both white and African-American, men and women. He often ruminates about his existence as a black man, realizing that even with his position as supervisor, other supervisors will not share their white workers when he needs them to do so, or that he is not wanted in white, middle-class restaurants or other establishments. In short, Bob is aware that as an African-American man at this time, he's being oppressed, and the whole symbolism (imho) of the Japanese internment reminds him constantly that it could happen to him at any time for any reason. Bob has a girlfriend, Alice, who, since her father is a very well-paid physician, lives a very middle-class sort of life. Alice is fair-skinned and a social worker, entertaining herself with intellectual friends. When Bob tries to explain how he feels because of being African-American in Los Angeles, Alice tries to explain to him that if he'd just let all of these feelings of white oppression go, and find himself a place in the middle-class scene, life would be so much easier for him. Alice is sort of a dreamer, who doesn't want to come to terms with her heritage; she really has no clue. Bob, on the other hand, can't ignore the realities of his life, and this hits home one day on the job when a trashy white woman laborer from Texas calls him the n-word and he reacts in kind, setting off a chain of events that snowball out of control. I liked this book, and I'll probably read many more by this author in the future. His characters were believable, the setting was entirely believable and as a reader, you get into Bob's head very quickly and you stay with him the entire time. Himes is an awesome writer. I would most definitely recommend this book to people who want a bit of grit in their reading, or to people who may have been previously on the fence about reading this author, but don't expect to come away with this upbeat 'cause it ain't gonna happen.
SDW1 More than 1 year 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.