“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
“John Oliver Killens is a genius of the South, and Keith Gilyard has honored this youngblood, civil rights and union activist, novelist, dramatist, and screenwriter in a superb biography. Gilyard’s engaging written voice draws us into a dramatic and important life, and his deep commitment to the highest standards of research inspires our trust and admiration. John Oliver Killens ably documents and brings to life the yearnings and accomplishments of a major figure in our national literature.”
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.
Read more about John Oliver Killens at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
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