Stories by Henry Dumas
May 2021 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 424 pages • 978-1-56689-607-8
Gothic romance, ghost story, parable, psychological thriller, inner-space fiction—Dumas’s stories form a vivid, expansive portrait of Black life in America.
Championed by Toni Morrison and Walter Mosley, Henry Dumas’s fabulist fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on real, magical, and mythic quests. Humming with life, Dumas’s stories, with a new introduction by John Keene, create a collage of midcentury Black life, interweaving religious metaphor, African cosmologies, diasporic folklore, and America’s history of slavery and systemic racism.
About the Author
Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, in 1934 and moved to Harlem at the age of ten. He joined the air force in 1953 and spent a year on the Arabian Peninsula. Upon his return, Dumas became active in the civil rights movement, married, had two sons, attended Rutgers University, worked for IBM, and taught at Hiram College in Ohio and at Southern Illinois University. In 1968, at the age of thirty-three, he was shot and killed by a New York Transit Authority policeman.
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“[Henry Dumas] had completed work, the quality and quantity of which are almost never achieved in several lifetimes. . . . He was brilliant. He was magnetic and he was an incredible artist.” —Toni Morrison
“Each sentence a revelation of experience. . . . Actual black art, real, man, and stunning.” —Amiri Baraka
“The first time I read Henry Dumas’s Ark of Bones, I felt the hair raising on my head.” —Margaret Walker Alexander
“[Dumas’s] fiction is among the most significant produced by a writer of any race in this country in the 1960s.” —Quincy Troupe