Thursday, February 28, 2002

Bibliography of Ernest Gaines' work

        Catherine Carmier (Atheneum; 1964). In their small Louisiana hometown, the relationship between Jackson Bradley and Catherine Carmier overcomes prejudice, expectations, family secrets, and ultimately threatens to shatter the fragile peace that exists between the African-Americans, Cajuns and whites who are part of the community.

        Of Love and Dust (Dial Press; 1967). On a Louisiana plantation in 1948, Jim Kelly, a black laborer, tells what happened when a young man named Marcus, who is awaiting trial for murder, is bonded out of prison to a plantation. Marcus soon tangles with the Cajun overseer and plots revenge against him by trying to seduce the overseer's black mistress and his wife.

        The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (Dial Press; 1971). Set in rural Louisiana and spaning more than 100 years — from the Civil War through the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the novel follows the life of a former slave. Heading north after emancipation, Jane adopts a boy and survives a massacre by former Confederate soldiers. Later, after the death of her husband Joe, Jane becomes a committed Christian and a respected spiritual leader in her community. Spurred on by the violent death of a young activist, Jane becomes a strong voice in the civil rights movement.

        In My Father's House (Knopf; 1978). In a small, rural Louisiana community, Rev. Phillip Martin — a respected minister, prominent civil rights leader and devoted family man — must confront and deal with his buried past when Robert X, a troubled young man, arrives. Robert is eventually revealed to be one of three offspring from an earlier love affair of Phillip's — a family Phillip abandoned more than 20 years ago.

        A Gathering of Old Men (Knopf; 1983). When a Cajun farmer is murdered outside the home of an elderly black plantation worker, several of the other aging black men of the plantation, as well as the white woman who owns it, rally around each other by claiming to be the murderer. As the sheriff tries to determine the truth, he must also prevent the murdered man's father from enacting his own form of justice.

        A Lesson Before Dying (Knopf; 1993). In a small Louisiana community in the late 1940s, Jefferson, a young black man, is unjustly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, who grudgingly returned to his hometown after college to teach in a small plantation school, is persuaded by his aunt and Jefferson's godmother to visit Jefferson in jail and teach him pride and dignity before his death.

Short Stories
        Bloodline (Dial Press; 1968) A collection of five stories that vividly evokes the sugar cane fields, workers' shacks, and decaying plantation houses of rural Louisiana, and explores the lives of the people who live there. Includes: “A Long Day in November,” “The Sky Is Gray,” "Three Men,” “Bloodline” and “Just Like a Tree.”

Children's Book
        A Long Day in November (Dial Press; 1971). Mr. Gaines' only children's book describes a single, eventful day in the life of Sonny, who lives with his parents on a Louisiana sugar cane plantation. When Sonny's mother announces she's leaving her husband, Sonny and his father take a journey that includes pastors, plantation workers and voodoo queens in an attempt to persuade her to change her mind.

        Reprinted with permission from the Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library.


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