Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, United States on 2020-01-31 19:21Z by Steven

Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays

University Press of Mississippi
2020-05-15
208 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496827821
Paperback ISBN: 9781496827838

Edited by:

Matthew Teutsch, Director, Lillian E. Smith Center
Piedmont College, Demorest, Georgia

The first book-length sounding of the major contributions of the first black American novelist to sell more than a million copies

Contributions by Catherine L. Adams, Stephanie Brown, Gene Andrew Jarrett, John Wharton Lowe, Guirdex Massé, Anderson Rouse, Matthew Teutsch, Donna-lyn Washington, and Veronica T. Watson

Rediscovering Frank Yerby: Critical Essays is the first book-length study of Yerby’s life and work. The collection explores a myriad of topics, including his connections to the Harlem and Chicago Renaissances; readership and reception; representations of masculinity and patriotism; film adaptations; and engagement with race, identity, and religion. The contributors to this collection work to rectify the misunderstandings of Yerby’s work that have relegated him to the sidelines and, ultimately, begin a reexamination of the importance of “the prince of pulpsters” in American literature.

It was Robert Bone, in The Negro Novel in America, who infamously dismissed Frank Yerby (1916–1991) as “the prince of pulpsters. ” Like Bone, many literary critics at the time criticized Yerby’s lack of focus on race and the stereotypical treatment of African American characters in his books. This negative labeling continued to stick to Yerby even as he gained critical success, first with The Foxes of Harrow, the first novel by an African American to sell more than a million copies, and later as he began to publish more political works like Speak Now and The Dahomean.

However, the literary community cannot continue to ignore Frank Yerby and his impact on American literature. More than a fiction writer, Yerby should be put in conversation with such contemporaneous writers as Richard Wright, Dorothy West, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, Margaret Mitchell, and more.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Multicultural Cities in Frank Yerby

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2018-03-08 00:12Z by Steven

Multicultural Cities in Frank Yerby

Interminable Rambling
2018-03-16

Matthew Teutsch, Instructor
Department of English
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

Throughout his oeuvre, Frank Yerby works to deconstruct myths of the Old South and historical misinformation. Along with these goals, he also dismantles the dichotomy of Black and White; instead, he populates his works with individuals and scenes that defy a simplistic characterization. In this manner, Yerby shows that race is not a biological fact; rather, it is a social construct. One of the key ways that Yerby accomplishes this, especially in regard to the commingling of individuals, is through his descriptions of cities and the multitude of different people that populate the space. Today, I want to look at a couple of scenes where he does this from his first novel The Foxes of Harrow (1946) and his seventh novel The Saracen Blade (1952). I chose these two texts because the first takes place in antebellum New Orleans and the second occurs in thirteenth century Italy. Both, though, comment on issues of class and race during the mid-twentieth century.

Walking through the Vieux Carre to catch a glimpse of the Marquis de Lafayette in The Foxes of Harrow, Andre LeBlanc gives Stephen Fox an education in the rules, customs, and racial stratification of New Orleans, a stratification that does not fall easily into the dichotomy of Black and White…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,