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Ernest J. Gaines - Conversations

Ernest J. Gaines


Edited by Marcia Gaudet
Series: Literary Conversations Series

Hardcover : 9781496822178, 234 pages, April 2019
Paperback : 9781496822185, 234 pages, April 2019

Collected interviews with the acclaimed author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying


As the acclaimed author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines (b. 1933) has been publishing stories and novels for more than sixty years. His brilliant portrayals of race, community, and culture in rural south Louisiana have made him one of the most respected and beloved living American writers.

Ernest J. Gaines: Conversations brings together the author’s own thoughts and words in interviews that range from 1994 to 2017, discussing his life, his work, and his literary legacy. The interviews cover all of Gaines’s works, including his two latest books, Mozart and Leadbelly: Stories and Essays (2005) and The Tragedy of Brady Sims (2017). The book provides a retrospective of his work from the viewpoint of a senior writer, now eighty-five years old, and gives an important international perspective on Gaines and his work.

Among the many things Gaines discusses in his interviews are the recurrent themes in his works: the search for manhood, the importance of personal responsibility and standing with dignity, the problems of fathers and sons, and the challenges of race and racism in America. He examines his fictional world and his strong sense of place, his role as teacher and mentor, the importance of strong women in his life, and the influence of spirituality, religion, and music on his work. He also talks about storytelling, the nature of narrative, writing as a journey, and how he sees himself as a storyteller.


"[Ernest J. Gaines: Conversations] becomes crucial to situating Gaines alongside. . . Toni Morrison as indispensable to understanding African American literary tradition and the shaping of an increasingly diverse contemporary U.S. literary landscape."

- Terrence Tucker, University of Memphis, American Literary History Online Review, Series XXVI