A contemporary of Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes wrote with perhaps more angry fire than his celebrated colleagues about black protagonists doomed by white racisim and self-hate. Among his writings is a series of hard-boiled detective novels featuring black detectives and a host of Harlem hustlers. The acclaimed Harlem series and much of his later work were written in France where Himes lived as an American expatriate from 1953 until his death in 1984. Exhaustively researched and well constructed, this comprehensive bibliography clears up mysteries and dispels misconceptions about the extent of Himes's work and its critical reception.
The primary bibliography identifies all United States, French, and British first and second editions of Himes's novels, the first appearances in periodicals of his short stories, his collected fiction, and his magazine and book-length nonfiction pieces. It includes manuscript materials and a filmography of adaptations of his novels. The annotated secondary bibliography provides a key to the biographical and critical work produced about Himes in the United States, Britain, and France since the late 1940s. Chronologically organized, it is indexed by author and by titles of the relevant Himes's works. The volume's introduction outlines Himes's life and career, discusses gaps in his writing history, and attempts to provide a more realistic picture of his critical reception in the United States based on an analysis of the secondary bibliography rather than on previous views influenced by Himes's own negative perceptions. A chronology of Himes's career is also included, and the volume's preface explains the organization of the bibliography and how to use it. This work will be of special value to university libraries offering programs in popular culture, American literature, and African American studies as well as to individual scholars and researchers in these fields and scholars and collectors interested particularly in Himes and his works.