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John Edgar Wideman - Author

About the Author

Books by John Edgar Wideman

American Histories

American Histories

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/05/2018

In this new short story collection, John Edgar Wideman blends the historical and the imaginary, the personal and the political, to invent complex, charged stories about love, death and struggle. With a cast of real and fictional characters as diverse as Frederick Douglass, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Wideman's own family, it is a journey through the soul of America. In 'JB & FD' Wideman imagines conversations between white anti-slavery crusader John Brown and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In 'Williamsburg Bridge' a man contemplates his life as he sits on the edge of the bridge, meaning to jump. In 'Maps and Ledgers' a brother and sister ponder their father's killing of another man. In these and the other stories in this collection, Wideman navigates an extraordinary range of subject and tone. He delivers individual narratives both emotionally precise and intellectually stimulating, and an extended meditation on family, history and loss. American Histories demonstrates a master at his absolute best.

Writing to Save a Life

Writing to Save a Life

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2018

When Emmett Till was murdered aged fourteen for allegedly whistling at a white woman, photographs of his destroyed face became a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. A decade earlier Emmett's father, Louis, had also been killed - court-martialled and hanged. Though the circumstances could hardly have been more different, behind both deaths stood the same crime, of being black. In Writing to Save a Life, John Edgar Wideman, born the same year as Emmett Till, investigates the tragic fates of father and son. Mixing research, memoir and imagination, this book is an essential commentary on racism in America - illuminating, humane and profound.

Brothers and Keepers

Brothers and Keepers

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2018

Brothers and Keepers is John Edgar Wideman's seminal memoir about two brothers - one an award-winning novelist, the other a fugitive. Wideman recalls the capture of his younger brother Robby, details the subsequent trials that resulted in a sentence of life in prison, and provides vivid views of the American prison system. A gripping, unsettling account, Brothers and Keepers weighs the bonds of blood, tenderness and guilt that connect him to his brother and measures the distance that lies between them.

Philadelphia Fire

Philadelphia Fire

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/05/2018

In 1985 police bombed a West Philadelphia row house. Eleven people died and a fire started that destroyed sixty other houses. John Edgar Wideman brings these events and their repercussions to shocking life in this seminal novel. At the heart of Philadelphia Fire is Cudjoe, a writer and exile who returns to his old neighbourhood and who becomes obsessed with the search for a lone survivor of the event, a young boy seen running from the flames. One of Wideman's most ambitious and celebrated works, Philadelphia Fire is about race, life and survival in urban America.

Writing to Save a Life

Writing to Save a Life

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: eBook Release Date: 15/11/2016

An award-winning writer traces the life of the father of iconic Civil Rights martyr Emmett Tilla man who was executed by the Army ten years before Emmetts murder. An evocative and personal exploration of individual and collective memory in America by one of the most formidable Black intellectuals of our time.In 1955, Emmett Till, aged fourteen, traveled from his home in Chicago to visit family in Mississippi. Several weeks later he returned, dead; allegedly he whistled at a white woman. His mother, Mamie, wanted the world to see what had been done to her son. She chose to leave his casket open. Images of her brutalized boy were published widely. While Emmetts story is known, theres a dark side note thats rarely mentioned. Ten years earlier, Emmetts father was executed by the Army for rape and murder. In Writing to Save a Life, John Edgar Wideman searches for Louis Till, a silent victim of American injustice. Wideman's personal interaction with the story began when he learned of Emmetts murder in 1955; Wideman was also fourteen years old. After reading decades later about Louiss execution, he couldnt escape the twin tragedies of father and son, and tells their stories together for the first time. Author of the award-winning Brothers and Keepers, Wideman brings extraordinary insight and a haunting intimacy to this devastating story. An amalgam of research, memoir, and imagination, Writing to Save a Life is completely original in its deliveryan engaging and enlightening conversation between generations, the living and the dead, fathers and sons. Wideman turns seventy-five this year, and he brings the force of his substantial intellect and experience to this beautiful, stirring book, his first nonfiction in fifteen years.

A Glance Away

A Glance Away

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/03/2010

John Edgar Wideman's first novel, A Glance Away, was published in 1967 when the author was just 26 years old. The New York Times Book Review raved Here is a novelist of high seriousness and depth. He has all sorts of literary gifts, including a poet's flair for a taut, meaningful, emotional language. The action unfolds over the course of a single day, but deftly jumps through time to interweave the life journeys of two very different men whose paths converge one unforgettable evening with surprising and unforgettable results. Eddie Lawson, a young African-American, has spent a year kicking his drug habit and finally returned home. Robert Thurley, a white college professor, is on the verge of crumbling under the weight of haunting family memories, alcoholism, and a tormented struggle with his ambiguous sexual identity. Their encounter forcefully illustrates the consequences of our failure to understand one another, and the transformative possibilities that open up for those brave enough to try.

Hurry Home

Hurry Home

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/02/2010

In 1970, The New York Times wrote, Hurry Home is a dazzling display...we have nothing but admiration for Mr. Wideman's talent. Wideman's second novel is the powerful and remarkably prescient story of a highly educated, multiracial man's struggle to find himself and understand his place in a country walled off by sharp racial and class divisions which seem to preempt the very possibility of his existence. Cecil Braithwaite works as a janitor while earning a law degree, yet discovers faithful adherence to the script promising the American Dream is not enough. He travels abroad, looking to Europe and Africa, but can't escape the abiding sense of rootlessness, of being trapped in a halfway house of questions the world's not yet ready or willing to answer. Wideman starkly portrays how difficult it is to shake free of the shackles one is born to, claim an identity that transgresses society's most fundamental boundaries, and find one's true Home.

The Lynchers

The Lynchers

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/02/2010

Almost 30 years before 9/11, John Edgar Wideman published his third novel, a revolutionary and controversial story about four African-American men who hatch a terrorist plot to shake a complacent America to its foundations. They see their plan to lynch a white cop as the ultimate symbolic act of protest in a racist, hypocritical society mired in fundamental inequalities that contradict its Home of the Free credo. Critic Saunders Redding raved, It is all here...the history of Negro America raised to the grandeur of superb fiction, as Tolstoy did it for the history of the Russian people in the Napoleonic era in War and Peace. I think The Lynchers is far and away the truest, the most moving, and the most brilliantly crafted novel of Negro life in almost a quarter of a century--that is, since Ellison's Invisible Man, which in some ways it surpasses.

Briefs

Briefs

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/02/2010

BRIEFS is a groundbreaking new collection of microstories from celebrated author John Edgar Wideman, previous winner of both the Rea and O. Henry awards saluting mastery of the short story form. Here he has assembled a masterful collage that explodes our assumptions about the genre. Wideman unveils an utterly original voice and structure- hip-hop zen-where each story is a single breath, to be caught, held, shared and savored. A relief worker's Sudan bulletin, a jogger's bullet-dodging daydreams, your neighbor's fears and fantasies, an absent mother's regrets-Wideman's storytellers are eavesdroppers and peeping Toms, diarists and haiku historians. The characters and compass points range from Darfur to Manhattan, from Pittsburgh to Paris, but thetruecoordinatesthese stories chart are the psychic and emotional fault lines beneath our common ground. BRIEFS is an unforgettable map of the lives we inherit, those we invent, and the worlds we wander between first and last loves.

Briefs

Briefs

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/02/2010

BRIEFS is a groundbreaking new collection of microstories from celebrated author John Edgar Wideman, previous winner of both the Rea and O. Henry awards saluting mastery of the short story form. Here he has assembled a masterful collage that explodes our assumptions about the genre. Wideman unveils an utterly original voice and structure-hip-hop zen-where each story is a single breath, to be caught, held, shared and savored. A relief worker's Sudan bulletin, a jogger's bullet-dodging daydreams, your neighbor's fears and fantasies, an absent mother's regrets-Wideman's storytellers are eavesdroppers and peeping Toms, diarists and haiku historians. The characters and compass points range from Darfur to Manhattan, from Pittsburgh to Paris, but the true coordinates these stories chart are the psychic and emotional fault lines beneath our common ground. BRIEFS is an unforgettable map of the lives we inherit, those we invent, and the worlds we wander between first and last loves.

The Lynchers

The Lynchers

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/02/2010

Almost 30 years before 9/11, John Edgar Wideman published his third novel, a revolutionary and controversial story about four African-American men who hatch a terrorist plot to shake a complacent America to its foundations. They see their plan to lynch a white cop as the ultimate symbolic act of protest in a racist, hypocritical society mired in fundamental inequalities that contradict its Home of the Free credo. Critic Saunders Redding raved, It is all here...the history of Negro America raised to the grandeur of superb fiction, as Tolstoy did it for the history of the Russian people in the Napoleonic era in War and Peace. I think The Lynchers is far and away the truest, the most moving, and the most brilliantly crafted novel of Negro life in almost a quarter of a century--that is, since Ellison's Invisible Man, which in some ways it surpasses.

Hurry Home

Hurry Home

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/02/2010

In 1970, The New York Times wrote, Hurry Home is a dazzling display...we have nothing but admiration for Mr. Wideman's talent. Wideman's second novel is the powerful and remarkably prescient story of a highly educated, multiracial man's struggle to find himself and understand his place in a country walled off by sharp racial and class divisions which seem to preempt the very possibility of his existence. Cecil Braithwaite works as a janitor while earning a law degree, yet discovers faithful adherence to the script promising the American Dream is not enough. He travels abroad, looking to Europe and Africa, but can't escape the abiding sense of rootlessness, of being trapped in a halfway house of questions the world's not yet ready or willing to answer. Wideman starkly portrays how difficult it is to shake free of the shackles one is born to, claim an identity that transgresses society's most fundamental boundaries, and find one's true Home.

A Glance Away

A Glance Away

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/02/2010

John Edgar Wideman's first novel, A Glance Away, was published in 1967 when the author was just 26 years old. The New York Times Book Review raved Here is a novelist of high seriousness and depth. He has all sorts of literary gifts, including a poet's flair for a taut, meaningful, emotional language. The action unfolds over the course of a single day, but deftly jumps through time to interweave the life journeys of two very different men whose paths converge one unforgettable evening with surprising and unforgettable results. Eddie Lawson, a young African-American, has spent a year kicking his drug habit and finally returned home. Robert Thurley, a white college professor, is on the verge of crumbling under the weight of haunting family memories, alcoholism, and a tormented struggle with his ambiguous sexual identity. Their encounter forcefully illustrates the consequences of our failure to understand one another, and the transformative possibilities that open up for those brave enough to try.

Motion American Sports Poems

Motion American Sports Poems

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/04/2001

Sports have long served as inspiration for poetry-the ancient Greeks wrote odes in praise of their athletes-so it is little surprise that in a culture as obsessed with athletes as our own sports would exert an influence on contemporary poets. Motion: American Sports Poems rescues sports from our society's focus on superstars, multimillion-dollar contracts, and gold medals to capture champions and losers, competitors and spectators in moments that are anything but fleeting. As Noah Blaustein points out in his preface, among the many parallels made between sports and poetry is the idea of transcendence. Forged from the most basic elements of sport-energy, movement, and rhythm-the poems in this anthology reflect something universal: sport as metaphor, sport as struggle, sport as the battleground for mythic figures and local heroes. The often celebrated sports-baseball, boxing, football, and basketball-are here along with unexpected pastimes like surfing, skateboarding, tennis, soccer, karate, rock climbing, bowling, and curling. Young and old, black and white, male and female, the poets in this anthology celebrate everyone who has come together in the shimmy and shake and sweat of sport.

Motion American Sports Poems

Motion American Sports Poems

Author: John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/04/2001

Forged from the basic elements of sport - energy, movement and rhythm - the poems in this anthology reflect something universal; sport as metaphor, sport as a struggle, and sport as the battleground for mythic figures and local heroes.

The Homewood Books

The Homewood Books

Author: John Edgar Wideman, John Edgar Wideman Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/12/1986

Edgar Wideman's The Homewood Books is so named because they share characters, events, and locales, these two novels-- Hiding Place and Sent for You Yesterday -- and one collection of short stories --Damballah-- are set in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, where Wideman was raised. As Wideman writes in his introduction to this edition, the three books offer a continuous investigation, from many angles, not so much of a physical location, Homewood, . . . but of a culture, a way of seeing and being seen. Three voices and three perspectives dominate the story narrated in Hiding Place Bess, who has lost a son to the war, living a hermetic existence of Bruston Hill; tommy, who is fleeing the police for a murder charge he is not guilty of; and Clement, a simple boy who makes deliveries to Bess's house. Damballah is a powerful collection of interrelated stories spanning a century in Homewood. The tales celebrate a community of people who, in the face of crisis, need, and fear, uphold each other through grace, courage, and dignity. Winner of the 1984 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and named as one of the fifteen best books of 1983 by the New York Times Book Review, Sent for You Yesterday traces, through its narrator, Doot, the intertwining lives through time of the inhabitants of Homewood-- Lucy, Brother Tate, Albert Wilkes, Carl French, and their ancestors and offspring--- from the blues-oriented 1920s to the drug-influenced 1970s.