“Ellison sought no less than to create a Book of Blackness, a literary composition of the tradition at its most sublime and fundamental." —Henry Louis Gates, Jr., TIME From the renowned author of the classic novel Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth is brilliantly crafted, moving, and wise. With a new introduction by National Book Award-winning author and scholar Charles Johnson. Here is Ellison, the master of American vernacular—the preacher’s hyperbole and the politician’s rhetoric, the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech—at the height of his powers, telling a powerful, evocative tale of a prodigal of the twentieth century.
“Tell me what happened while there’s still time,” demands the dying senator Adam Sunraider to the Reverend A. Z. Hickman, the itinerant Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, an orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. His history encompasses camp meetings where he became the risen Lazarus to inspire the faithful; the more ordinary joys of Southern boyhood; bucolic days as a filmmaker; lovemaking with a young woman in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals?