The Cotillion

A novel by John Oliver Killens

February 1, 2002 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 220 pages • 978-1-56689-119-6

A hilarious, biting satire of militants and social climbers in 1960s Harlem and Queens.

Beautiful, young Yoruba of Harlem has been invited to participate in a cotillion thrown annually by the African American high society of Queens. Caught between the indifference of her father, the excitement of her mother, and her prodigal boyfriend’s militancy, Yoruba persuades her sister debutantes to challenge the aging doyennes in one of the most sidesplitting scenes in American literature.

About the Author

John Oliver Killens (1916 – 1987) founded the Harlem Writers Guild and was the author of Youngblood (1954), Sippi (1967), and two Pulitzer Prize-nominated books, And Then We Heard the Thunder (1962) and The Cotillion or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd (1971).


“One of the joys of this novel is that Killens’s sensibilities as a writer imbue everything, even the most absurd scenes, with a thick layer of love.” —Alexs Pates, from the introduction

“Killens forged an alternative style, a new way of distilling black culture, and making it resonate with fresh vigor and integrity.” —Black Issues Book Review