Dans la Louisiane des années quarante, Jefferson, un jeune Noir, démuni et illettré, est accusé à tort d'avoir assassiné un Blanc. Au cours de son procès, il est bafoué et traité comme un animal par l'avocat commis d'office. Incapable de se défendre, il est condamné à mort. Commence alors un combat pour que Jefferson retrouve, aux yeux de tous mais surtout de lui-même, sa dignité humaine. Un combat mené par la marraine du condamné qui supplie l'instituteur Grant Wiggins de prendre en charge l'éducation de Jefferson. Un face à face entre deux hommes que tout oppose commence alors...
Une plantation comme une autre, près de Bayonne, en Louisiane. Tout le monde se connaît, s'épie, s'aime ou se jalouse. Dans la touffeur de l'après-midi, la belle Catherine Carmier y promène parfois sa silhouette souple, sa peau si claire, sa solitude, sous les yeux de Jackson, un jeune professeur noir de retour sur sa terre natale. Mais Jackson n'est pas le seul qui la regarde, et, tout au long de soirées interminables, un drame se noue, silencieux.
Au début des années 70 la lutte pour l'égalité des droits est loin d'être terminée pour les Noirs américains. Pour certains c'est même le combat de chaque instant. Le révérend Phillip Martin, leader du mouvement dans une petite ville de Louisiane, est de ceux-là; il a bâti autour de ce combat une vie solide et respectable. Jusqu'au jour où un mystérieux jeune homme vient rôder sans but apparent autour de sa maison...
Gaines, avec son immense talent, nous entraîne dans une histoire où tension et suspense vont crescendo. Ernest J. Gaines, né en 1933, a été surnommé «le Faulkner noir» aux États-Unis où le National Book Critic Award lui a été décerné en 1994 pour Dites-leur que je suis un homme.
Il a crié «Fils» et il lui a tiré dessus, en plein tribunal. Puis le vieux Brady a demandé que le shérif lui laisse deux heures, et il est parti. Si tout le monde connaît les faits ici, à Bayonne, en Louisiane, ils sont peu nombreux à pouvoir les expliquer. Sauf peut-être les vieux du salon de coiffure qui passent leur journée à discuter... Eux connaissent Brady, l'homme qui fouettait les enfants, et savent bien pourquoi il agissait ainsi autrefois. Pour eux tout est clair, mais il faudra que le narrateur, jeune reporter au journal local, passe la journée à les écouter pour comprendre. Et pour que se dessine le portrait d'un homme au passé et à la personnalité complexes, et d'une communauté noire confrontée depuis toujours aux mêmes difficultés... Un récit plein de verve et d'humanité.
A Lesson Before Dying, is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shoot out in which three men are killed; the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, who left his hometown for the university, has returned to the plantation school to teach. As he struggles with his decision whether to stay or escape to another state, his aunt and Jefferson's godmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in his cell and impart his learning and his pride to Jefferson before his death. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting--and defying--the expected.Ernest J. Gaines brings to this novel the same rich sense of place, the same deep understanding of the human psyche, and the same compassion for a people and their struggle that have unformed his previous, highly praised works of fiction.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In this collection of stories and essays, the beloved author of the classic, best-selling novel A Lesson Before Dying shares the inspirations behind his books and his reasons for becoming a writer. Told in the simple and powerful prose that is a hallmark of his craft, these writings by Ernest J. Gaines faithfully evoke the sorrows and joys of rustic Southern life. From his depiction of his childhood move to California -- a move that propelled him to find books that conjured the sights, smells, and locution of his native Louisiana home -- to his description of the real-life murder case that gave him the idea for his masterpiece, this wonderful collection is a revelation of both man and writer.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
This is the story of Marcus: bonded out of jail where he has been awaiting trial for murder, he is sent to the Hebert plantation to work in the fields. There he encounters conflict with the overseer, Sidney Bonbon, and a tale of revenge, lust and power plays out between Marcus, Bonbon, BonBon's mistress Pauline, and BonBon's wife Louise.
A story of a man brought to reckon with his buried past. Reverend Martin comes face to face with the sins of his youth in the person of Robert X, a young, unkempt stranger who arrives in town for a mysterious "meeting" with the Reverend.
"This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960's. In this woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure, a woman equipped to stand beside William Faulkner's Dilsey in The Sound And The Fury." Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has 'endured,' has seen almost everything and foretold the rest. Gaines' novel brings to mind other great works The Odyssey for the way his heroine's travels manage to summarize the American history of her race, and Huckleberry Finn for the clarity of her voice, for her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years and things to find the one true story in it all." -- Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek.
"Stunning. I know of no black novel about the South that excludes quite the same refreshing mix of wit and wrath, imagination and indignation, misery and poetry. And I can recall no more memorable female character in Southern fiction since Lena of Faulkner's Light In August than Miss Jane Pittman." -- Josh Greenfeld, Life
Une plantation comme une autre, près de Bayonne, en Louisiane.
Tout le monde se connaît, s'épie, s'aime ou se jalouse. Dans la touffeur de l'après-midi, la belle Catherine Carmier y promène parfois sa silhouette souple, sa peau si claire, sa solitude, sous les yeux de Jackson, un jeune professeur noir de retour sur sa terre natale. Mais Jackson n'est pas le seul qui la regarde, et, tout au long de soirées interminables, un drame se noue, silencieux.
In these five stories, Gaines returns to the cane fields, sharecroppers' shacks, and decaying plantation houses of Louisiana, the terrain of his great novels A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying. As rendered by Gaines, this country becomes as familiar, and as haunted by cruelty, suffering, and courage, as Ralph Ellison's Harlem or Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County.
A Long Day in November The Sky Is Gray Three Men Bloodline Just Like a Tree
Set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s, A Gathering of Old Men is a powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man.
"Poignant, powerful, earthy...a novel of Southern racial confrontation in which a group of elderly black men band together against whites who seek vengeance for the murder of one of their own."--Booklist "A fine novel...there is a denouement that will shock and move readers as much as it does the characters."--Philadelphia Inquirer
A Vintage Shorts Short Story Month Selection The fish are nearly jumping in the bayous of Louisiana, but hoodoo magic is just as easy to find. And one day, Bobbys grandfather catches a haint.
With his characteristically rich sense of place and deep understanding of the human psyche, Ernest Gaines, National Book Critics Circle Award winner and author of the classic novel A Lesson Before Dying, presents a raconteurs tale of rustic Southern living, A selection from Gainess collection of prose, Mozart and Leadbelly.
An eBook short.
An Oprah Book Club selection Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize In a small Cajun community in the late 1940s, a young black man named Jefferson witnesses a liquor store shootout in which three men are killed. The only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Gaines explores the deep prejudice of the American South in the tradition of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird and Toni Morrison's Beloved. A Lesson Before Dying is a richly compassionate and deeply moving novel, the story of a young black man sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit, and a teacher who hopes to ease his burden before the execution.
Ernest J. Gaines's new novella revolves around a courthouse shooting that leads a young reporter to uncover the long story of race and power in his small town and the relationship between the white sheriff and the black man who "whipped children" to keep order.
After Brady Sims pulls out a gun in a courtroom and shoots his own son, who has just been convicted of robbery and murder, he asks only to be allowed two hours before he'll give himself up to the sheriff. When the editor of the local newspaper asks his cub reporter to dig up a "human interest" story about Brady, he heads for the town's barbershop. It is the barbers and the regulars who hang out there who narrate with empathy, sadness, humor, and a profound understanding the life story of Brady Sims--an honorable, just, and unsparing man who with his tough love had been handed the task of keeping the black children of Bayonne, Louisiana in line to protect them from the unjust world in which they lived. And when his own son makes a fateful mistake, it is up to Brady to carry out the necessary reckoning. In the telling, we learn the story of a small southern town, divided by race, and the black community struggling to survive even as many of its inhabitants head off northwards during the Great Migration.