The Blues Detective: A Study of African American Detective Fiction
This illuminating book makes the case for a tradition of African American detective fiction--novels written by black Americans about black detectives and incorporating distinctly African American tropes and themes. Beginning with Pauline Hopkins in 1901, black authors consciously altered and subverted the formulas of detective fiction in significant ways. Such writers as J. E. Bruce, Rudolph Fisher, Chester Himes, Ishmael Reed, and Clarence Major created a new genre that responded to the social and political concerns of the black community.
Examining the work of these authors, Stephen Soitos frames his analysis in terms of four uniquely African American tropes: altered detective personas, double-consciousness detection, black vernaculars, and hoodoo. He argues that black writers created sleuths who were in fact "blues detectives," engaged not only in solving crimes, but also in exploring the mysteries of black life and culture.
Soitos grounds his study in African American literary theory, particularly the work of Houston Baker, Bernard Bell, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He offers both a new way of conceiving black detective fiction and a series of insightful readings of books in this genre.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Other editions - View all
African American culture African American detective Afro-American Afrocentric anti-detective novel Archer aspects black Americans black culture black detective fiction black detective novel black detective tradition black detective writers Black Sleuth black vernaculars black writers Blues Detective Bruce Bubber Chester Himes Clarence Major classical and hardboiled classical detective Coffin color Conjure crime criminal critics critique detective conventions detective form detective formulas detective persona detective story detective texts detective tropes double consciousness double-conscious detection Euro-Americentric female detective Fisher Frimbo genre Grave Digger Hagar's Daughter hardboiled detective Harlem Renaissance Henson Himes's Himes's detective hoodoo Hopkins Hopkins's identity important Ishmael Reed Jes Grew killed language literary male masking Mumbo Jumbo murder mystery N'Gana Frimbo narrative Narrator Negro Neo-HooDoo PaPa LaBas Pauline Hopkins plot police political popular postmodern race racial racism reader Reed's Reflex Rudolph Fisher Sadipe Sadipe's satire Signifying social structure suggests themes tion tive trickster viewpoint violence writing
Page 33 - sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two
Page 17 - Observing him in these moods, I often dwelt meditatively upon the old philosophy of the Bi-Part Soul, and amused myself with the fancy of a double Dupin—the creative and the resolvent.
Page 21 - not mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man
Page 10 - Black texts employ many of the conventions of literary form that comprise the western tradition -. - but black formal repetition always repeats with a difference, a black difference that manifests itself in specific language use. And the repository that contains the language that is the source and the reflection of black difference is the black English vernacular tradition.
Page 22 - Detective fiction has its norms; to “develop” them is also to disappoint them: to “improve upon” detective fiction is to write ‘literature,” not detective fiction. The whodunit par excellence is not the one which transgresses the rules of the genre, but the one which conforms to them. (43)