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In jail he began to write short stories, some of which were published in Esquire. Upon release he took a variety of jobs from working in a California shipyard to journalism to script-writing while continuing to write fiction. Himes wrote spectacularly successful entertainments, filled with gems of descriptive writing, plots that barely sidestep chaos, characters surreal, grotesque, comic, hip, Harlem recollected as a place that can make you laugh, cry, shudder.

Chester Himes is one of the towering figures of the black literary tradition.


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His command of nuances of character and dynamics of plot is preeminent among writers of crime fiction. He is a master craftsman.

A fine crime writer of Chandlerian subtlety though in a vein of sheer toughness very much his own. Chester Himes is the great lost crime writer, as well a great American dissident novelist per se, and an essential witness to his times. Every one of his beyond-cool Harlem novels is cherished by every reader who finds it.


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He belongs with those great demented realists That he could channel this pain and misery into some of the greatest crime novels ever written is a testament to his skill as a writer and his spirit as a man. If this is the first Chester Himes novel you will read then, believe me, you are in for a treat.

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In Himes moved to Spain, where he died in For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more. By signing up, I confirm that I'm over View all newsletter. Paperback Books Categories.

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A Rage in Harlem

The first of Chester Himes's novels to feature the hardboiled Harlem detectives 'Coffin' Ed Johnson and 'Grave Digger' Jones, A Rage in Harlem has swagger, brutal humour, lurid violence, a hearse loaded with gold and a conman dressed as a Sister of Mercy. Aged 19 he was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 20 to 25 years in jail.

In jail he began to write short stories, some of which were published in Esquire.

Upon release he took a variety of jobs from working in a California shipyard to journalism to script-writing while continuing to write fiction. A much-needed change of pace for me, and a book which unusually for me I finished in a day. Skip to main content.

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View original item. Sell one like this. Jackson's woman has found him a foolproof way to make money - a technique for turning ten dollar bills into hundreds. But when the scheme somehow fails, Jackson is left broke, wanted by the police and desperately racing to get back both his money and his loving Imabelle.