A Lesson Before Dying

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Vintage Books, Sep 1, 1997 - Fiction - 256 pages
2467 Reviews
From the author of, A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. Grant Wiggins, a college-educated man returns to 1940s Cajun, he visits and forms an unlikely bond with Jefferson, a young Black man convicted of murder and sentenced to death, for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting. Best Books for Young Teen Readers. In the 1940s in rural Louisiana, an uneducated African American man is sentenced to die for a crime he was incapable of committing.

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Review: A Lesson Before Dying

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This is one of the most powerful book I have ever read. It is very poignant in its narration, with a unique point of view. The plot resonates with the happenings of today in the United States, no ... Read full review

Review: A Lesson Before Dying

User Review  - Goodreads

Not bad. The librarian at school raved about it so I read it. Kind of like a cut rate Kill a Mockingbird. Has some good passages. Nicely moral without being too preachy, but still a bit preachy. Readable. Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Ernest James Gaines was born on January 15, 1933, on the River Lake Plantation, Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. His 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Gaines has been a MacArthur Foundation fellow, awarded the National Humanities Medal, and inducted into the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) as a Chevalier. Although he was educated in California (at San Francisco State College and Stanford University), his fiction is dominated by images and characters drawn from rural Louisiana, where he was born and raised. Unquestionably the most recognizable, and probably the best, of Gaines's novels is The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971), a fictional account of the long life of a black woman born a slave on a Louisiana plantation. Through the stories of the many fascinating people who touch Jane's life, Gaines presents not only a moving perspective on the struggles of African Americans but also a social history of the United States since the Civil War. It is a testimony to Gaines's skill as a writer and storyteller that many people believe Jane Pittman was a real person. Indeed, the novel is frequently misshelved in the biography section of bookstores. In 1993 Gaines also won the Dos Passos Prize and in 2000 he won the National Humanities Medal. Of Gaines's other works, Bloodline (1976), a collection of five short stories, stands out for its powerful portrayals of young men in search of self-respect and dignity.

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