Navigating the Fiction of Ernest J. Gaines

African American Heritage  •  Books & Literature  •  Fellowships

Ernest J. Gaines.
Ernest J. Gaines. Photo:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

145 Ednam Drive Charlottesville, VA

Join VFH Fellow Keith Clark of George Mason University for an exploration of the work of Ernest J. Gaines.

Gaines has solidified his place among the pantheon of southern African American fiction writers, his work often inviting comparisons to Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Alice Walker. A prolific writer over the past five decades, Gaines has gained popularity not simply because of racial subject matter, but because his fiction reflects the reading public’s thirst for unsentimental explorations of history that are complex yet accessible.

Gaines’s novels and short stories are staples in African American and Southern literature survey courses, as readers and teachers have been drawn to his penetrating portrayals of the American South with its fraught and wrenching racial history. He has earned recognition for his most famous novel, A Lesson before Dying (1993), winner of the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award, and received a MacArthur “Genius” grant in 1993. Nevertheless, Gaines has been the subject of relatively few scholarly monographs.

Clark’s project will expand the existing scholarship on a major living American author, sure to attract a range of audiences—both scholars and the community of readers beyond academia.

Free and open to the public. A casual lunch provided.