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"Tell me what happened while there's still time," demands the dying Senator Adam Sunraider to the Reverend A. Z. Hickman, the interant Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, and orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. His history encompasses camp meetings where he became the risen Lazarus to inspire the faithful; the more ordinary joys of Southern boyhood; bucolic days as a filmmaker; lovemaking with a young woman in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals? Brilliantly crafted, moving, wise, Juneteenth is an American master's abiding testament to the country he so loved, and to its many unfinshed tasks.
"[A]n extraordinary book, a work of staggering virtuosity. With its publication, a giant world of literature has just grown twice as tall."--Newsday
From Ralph Ellison--author of the classic novel of African-American experience, Invisible Man--the long-awaited second novel. Here is the master of American vernacular--the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech--at the height of his powers, telling a powerful, evocative tale of a prodigal of the twentieth century.
"Tell me what happened while there's still time," demands the dying Senator Adam Sunraider to the itinerate Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, an orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. Bliss's history encompasses the joys of young southern boyhood; bucolic days as a filmmaker, lovemaking in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals? Brilliantly crafted, moving, wise, Juneteenth is the work of an American master.
Ralph Ellison was born in Oklahoma City in 1914. He is the author of the novel Invisible Man (1952), winner of the National Book Award and one of the most important and influential American novels of the twentieth century, as well as numerous essays and short stories. He died in New York City in 1994.
John F. Callahan is Morgan S. Odell Professor of Humanities at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He is the editor of the Modern Library edition of The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison and is literary executor of Ralph Ellison's estate.
From the Hardcover edition.
The questions, topics, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading and discussion of Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth, the narrative core of the work-in-progress that Ellison planned to follow Invisible Man, the book which propelled him to fame and prestige when it was published in 1952.
"[A] vastly ambitious informing allegory, an allegory made rich, as in Invisible man, with the sensory details of which Ellison was such a master." -The New York Review of Books
"[A] stunning achievement.... Juneteenth is a tour de force of untutored eloquence. Ellison sought no less than to create a Book of Blackness, a literary composition of the tradition at its most sublime and fundamental." -Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Time
"Juneteenth...threatens to come as close as any since Huckleberry Finn to grabbing the ring of the great American Novel." -Los Angeles Times