From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980

Michel J. Fabre, Author University of Illinois Press $41.95 (358p) ISBN 978-0-252-01684-4
This plodding, academic study uses accounts from more than 60 African American writers--Countee Cullen, James Baldwin, Chester Himes et al.--to explain why they were more readily accepted socially in Paris than in America. Fabre ( The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright ) shows that French/black American affinity started in pre-Civil War New Orleans (and not, as the title suggests, in Harlem), when illegitimate mulattos with inheritances from French slave-owners sent their children to Paris to be educated. The book concludes that acceptance and appreciation of black Americans were based largely of French distaste both for white Americans, whom the French found egotistical, and for black Africans, with whom the French had a bitter ``mutual colonial history.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991
Release date: 07/01/1991
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