Book Review: Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson

UnknownI picked up this book for two reasons: it was written by a black man in the 1920s and I have a character in RENTING SILENCE (#3 in the Roaring Twenties series) who is black. It is fiction, written in first person, and reveals a good deal about the thinking of a light-skinned black man who passes as white in the Twenties. 

It was a real find–I was able to use a good deal of the information as background material for my own character–but all in all, I wouldn’t recommend the book for casual reading. It was boring and the writing style is very much out of fashion today. For example, the author never uses names for his characters: they are “the millionaire” or “the beautiful girl” or “the Chinaman,” and places are referred to as “the Club.” Because it is written in first person, the narrator has no name either; he is simply “I”. This gives the book a very superficial, glossed-over feel that I found unsatisfying. 

Published in: on March 22, 2014 at 6:40 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Sounds like an interesting resource, in any event. It’s amazing how many 1920s books are out there if you hunt them down….

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