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The Postwar African American NovelProtest and Discontent, 1945-1950$
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Stephanie Brown

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781604739732

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604739732.001.0001

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date: 22 October 2017

“If I Can Only Get It Funny!”: Chester Himes’s Parodic Protest Novels

“If I Can Only Get It Funny!”: Chester Himes’s Parodic Protest Novels

Chapter:
(p.41) Chapter Two “If I Can Only Get It Funny!”: Chester Himes’s Parodic Protest Novels
Source:
The Postwar African American Novel
Author(s):

Stephanie Brown

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781604739732.003.0003

This chapter focuses on Chester Himes, an African American writer who had a contentious relationship with the genre of the African American protest novel. The critical assessment of his first novel If He Hollers Let Him Go set the tone for the reception of his subsequent works, which have routinely been hailed as second-rate protest fiction. There has also been the pervading perception that Himes’s major novels are indebted to Richard Wright both for their subject matter and for their style, a perception that remains dominant until today. If He Hollers Let Him Go received the occasional accolade but was more often damned with faint praise. A closer examination of the novel, however, reveals its ambivalence toward and critique of the conventions of protest fiction as Himes clearly understood them.

Keywords:   protest novel, Chester Himes, African American writer, second-rate protest fiction, Richard Wright

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