Yesterday Will Make You Cry by Chester B. Himes
(Old School Books)

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A classic restored -- the complete and unexpurgated text of the first, most powerful, and most autobiographical novel of this great African-American writer.

In 1937 Chester Himes, newly released from a seven-year stretch in the Ohio State Penitentiary for grand larceny, finished his first novel, Yesterday Will Make You Cry. By turns brutal and lyrical and never less than totally honest, it tells the autobiographical story of young Jimmy Monroe's passage through the prison system, which tests the limits of his sanity, his capacity for suffering, and his definition of love. Stunningly candid about racism, homosexuality, and prison corruption, the book would take sixteen years and four subsequent revisions before being published in much altered form as Cast the First Stone in 1952. Even bowdlerized, it was recognized as a sardonic masterpiece of debasement and transfiguration.

This edition presents for the first time the book precisely as Himes intended it to be read, with its raw honesty and startling compassion entirely intact. It now stands definitively as one of the great novels of prison life and one of Himes's most enduring literary achievements.


About Chester B. Himes

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Chester B. Himes was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on July 29, 1909. He attended Ohio State University in Columbus, but was expelled his freshman year for a prank. He began writing short stories and having them published in national magazines such as Abbott's Monthly Magazine and Esquire while in prison for armed robbery. He was paroled after 8 years and eventually joined the Works Progress Administration, where he served as a writer with the Ohio Writers' Project. His first novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go, is about the fear, anger, and humiliation of a black employee at a racist defense plant during World War II and was published in 1945. He moved to Paris, France in the 1950s and then to Moraira, Spain in 1969. He was more popular in Europe than in the United States and primarily wrote about black protagonists plagued by white racism and self-hate. His other works include Lonely Crusade, Pinktoes, Black on Black, The Quality of Hurt, and My Life As Absurdity. He also wrote detective novels set in Harlem, New York City including Run Man, Run, The Real Cool Killers, and Blind Man with a Pistol. He won the 1958 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and the 1982 Columbus Foundation award. He died on November 12, 1984 from Parkinson's Disease.
Published February 1, 1998 by W. W. Norton & Company. 363 pages
Genres: Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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Much of the story concentrates on the ``girl-boy'' culture behind bars, and Jimmy, with the beautiful young Rico, indulges in a romance of ``fantasy and frenzy and delirium.'' Just as the pair's dangerous friendship threatens Jimmy's future in jail, he's transferred to farm duty, the last step be...

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Publishers Weekly

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Himes (who spent seven years in prison) masterfully presents the arbitrary violence (from both inmates and guards), the corruption, the regularity of unlamented death, the uneasy relations of the races and the psychological elongation of prison time (""Each moment was absolute, like a still photo...

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