If He Hollers Let Him Go - Chester Himes, Hilton Als A very powerful book, probably the closest thing in print a white man can come to experiencing what it's like to live in a world where no matter what you do you're always a "boy" - a second-class citizen. I particularly liked Himes' ability to look at the many ways African-Americans cope with that status.

I think it's better today than when this book first appeared in 1945 but then I read about a private swimming pool that barred a bunch of black children from swimming there (after they had joined) because they caused the white parents too much anxiety, and I live in LA and know how segregated people still are here.

I became aware of Himes through a quotation in Mike Davis' City of Quartz which deserves repeating here:

Up to the age of 31 I had been hurt emotionally, spiritually, and physically as much as 31 years can bear: I had lived in the South, I had fallen down an elevator shaft, I had been kicked out of college, I had served seven and one half years in prison, I had survived the humiliating last five years of the Depression in Cleveland; and still I was entire, complete, functional; my mind was sharp, my reflexes were good, and I was not bitter. But under the mental corrosion of race prejudice in Los Angeles I had become bitter and saturated with hate. (City of Quartz, p. 43)


Definitely a book that should be read.