John Oliver Killens
A Life of Black Literary Activism

Keith Gilyard

Reconsidering the life, art, and politics of a major African American novelist

Reviews

"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


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Description

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.

Page count: 456 pp.
54 b&w photos
Trim size: 6.125 x 9.5

Read more about John Oliver Killens at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

 

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5/15/2010
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11/1/2011
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Keith Gilyard is distinguished professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.