Dumas, Henry. Jonoah & the Green Stone. New York. 1976. Random House. 0394497910. 170 pages. hardcover. Jacket design by Mike Stromberg. 


Henry Dumas was a first-rate writer with first-order intelligence. The publication of his short stories, ARK OF BONES, and poetry, PLAY EBONY PLAY IVORY, was received with spectacular acclaim. Now a novel has been discovered that will satisfy the appetites whetted by these earlier works. JONOAH AND THE GREEN STONE is a story about what it was like for a young Black man from Arkansas to deal with the turbulence of the sixties. Beginning in 1938, floating on a johnnyboat in the middle of a Mississippi flood that has just orphaned him, the narrator takes us on a journey of a man hunted down in cane fields and haunted by his own conscience - until finally, once again, he finds himself on the Mississippi River, certain he is going to die. JONOAH AND THE GREEN STONE was in draft at the time of Dumas’  death, but even in that stage (and with help from Eugene Redmond) it is the most haunting, the most beautiful, the most moving piece of fiction published in a long, long time. Dumas’ talent has that rare ingredient: authority.


Dumas HenryHENRY DUMAS, a prize-winning writer, was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, on July 20, 1934, and moved to New York City when he was ten years old. His life was ended abruptly on May 23, 1968, by bullets from the gun of a New York Transit policeman in the subway. Reasons for the killing have remained vague and unsatisfactory. Before his death Dumas had been active on the ‘little’ magazine circuit as well as in the initial opening scene of the Black Arts Movement, publishing his stories and poems in Negro Digest/Black World, Rutgers’ Anthologist, the Hiram Poetry Review, Umbra and Black Fire. Since his death his reputation and writings have attracted a large and international community of readers. On the heels of the publication of ARK OF BONES AND OTHER STORIES and PLAY EBONY PLAY IVORY, writers, artists and students gathered in several largely Black areas of the country to read from the works and proclaim the genius of Dumas. Among the anthologies and periodicals which have printed his work since his death are: Black Scholar, Essence, Brothers and Sisters, Confrontation, Galaxy of Black Writing, You Better Believe it, Open Poetry and Giant Talk: An Anthology of Third World Writings. Just before his death, Dumas was employed by Southern Illinois University’s Experiment in Higher Education in East St. Louis. His widow, Loretta Dumas, and his sons, David and Michael, make their home in Willingboro, New Jersey.  






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