Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas

Stories by Henry Dumas

September 1, 2003 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 320 pages • 978-1-56689-149-3

Henry Dumas’s 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 surreal and mythic quests armed with only their wit, words, and wisdom. With an astonishing ear for language, Dumas creates a mythology of the psychological, spiritual, and political development of African American culture by interweaving elements of Christian metaphor, African tradition, southern folklore, American music and America’s history of slavery and endemic racism. Although championed by many great writers of his generation, Dumas’s books have long been out of print. For the first time and on the 35th anniversary of Henry Dumas’s death, all of his short fiction is collected here, including several previously unpublished stories.

About the Author

The author of Echo Tree, 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