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Perhaps more than any other writer, Langston Hughes made the white America of the 1920's and '30s aware of the black culture thriving in its midst. Like his most famous poems, Hughes's stories are messages from that other America, sharply etched vignettes of its daily life, cruelly accurate portrayals of black people colliding - sometimes humorously, more often tragically - with whites. Here is the ailing black musician who comes home from Europe to die in his small town - only to die more quickly and brutally than he had imagined. Here are the wealthy bohemians who collect Negroes like so many objets d'art...the moonlighting student who becomes the reluctant confidante of a boozy white Don Jaun... the elegant charlatan who peddles "real primitive jazz out of Africa" as a nostrum to the spiritually starved elite. Filled with mordant wit and human detail, The Ways of White Folks is unmistakably the work of a great poet who was also a shrewd and compelling storyteller.
In these acrid and poignant stories, Hughes depicted black people colliding--sometimes humorously, more often tragically--with whites in the 1920s and '30s.