Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chester Himes & John A. Williams--The Letters of Two Literary Giants


This is a major publishing event detailing the long term friendship and intellectual camaraderie of two of the finest and most important American writers of the 20th century. John A. Williams (born 1925) and the late, great Chester Himes (1909-1984) have written over 40 books between them and are widely considered to be two of the most widely read and influential African American novelists, intellectuals, and critics of our time. Buy this book!! You WON'T be disappointed. This is what great writing is really all about...


Dear Chester, Dear John: Letters Between Chester Himes and John A. Williams (African American Life Series)--Wayne State University Press (Detroit, Michigan)

by Gilbert H. Muller (Foreword), John A. Williams (Editor), Lori Williams (Editor)

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Wayne State University Press (January 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0814333559
ISBN-13: 978-0814333556

Editorial Reviews


Reading these letters, one is delighted to be in the company of two friends who truly like each other. One also feels the passionate excitement and richness of their intellect and creativity, their anger and joy. And by chance one learns a great deal about the publishing world. But most of all one learns what it is like in the 20th. century to be an African-American writer in America and Europe. The book is a treasure. --Clarence Major, professor of English at the University of California Davis and author of Dirty Bird Blues


Gentle and forgiving, John A. Williams endured trying as well as exhilarating moments in his long friendship with the tormented, often unpredictable Chester Himes. One rupture in their friendship, provoked by Himes, lasted several years. Both men, however, were prolific writers of lasting importance. They were also defiant observers, as proud black artists, of a publishing culture that often tried to thwart and mock their best efforts. Dramatically entertaining as well as educational, this book casts invaluable light on a crucial slice of American literary history in the twentieth century. --Arnold Rampersad, Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities and cognizant dean for the humanities at Stanford University


Chester Himes and John A. Williams met in 1961, as Himes was on the cusp of transcontinental celebrity and Williams, sixteen years his junior, was just beginning his writing career. Both men would go on to receive international acclaim for their work, including Himes's Harlem detective novels featuring Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson and Williams s major novels The Man Who Cried I Am, Captain Blackman, and Clifford's Blues. Dear Chester, Dear John is a landmark collection of correspondence between these two friends, presenting nearly three decades worth of letters about their lives and loves, their professional and personal challenges, and their reflections on society in the United States and abroad.

About the Author

John A. Williams is the author of numerous books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. His critically acclaimed novels include Sissie, The Man Who Cried I Am, and Captain Blackman. From 1979¬ to 1994, Williams was the Paul Robeson Professor of English at Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Lori.

Lori Williams is a graduate of Hunter College and was a production editor for many years in both magazine and book publishing. Following her retirement, she became a freelance editor and proofreader.