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WHITAKER--SMOKETOWN

Smoketown brilliantly offers us a chance to see this other black renaissance and spend time with the many luminaries who sparked it…It’s thanks to such a gifted storyteller as Whitaker that this forgotten chapter of American history can finally be told in all its vibrancy and glory.”—The New York Times Book Review

The other great Renaissance of black culture, influence, and glamour burst forth joyfully in what may seem an unlikely place—Pittsburgh, PA—from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson’s famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson—and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city, from Joe Louis and Satchel Paige to Duke Ellington and Lena Horne.

Mark Whitaker’s Smoketown is a captivating portrait of this unsung community and a vital addition to the story of black America. It depicts how ambitious Southern migrants were drawn to a steel-making city on a strategic river junction; how they were shaped by its schools and a spirit of commerce with roots in the Gilded Age; and how their world was eventually destroyed by industrial decline and urban renewal. Whitaker takes readers on a rousing, revelatory journey—and offers a timely reminder that Black History is not all bleak.

ISBN-10: 1501122398
ISBN-13: 9781501122392
Release Year: 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

150112239
Price: $30.00

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WIDEMAN--HOMEWOOD BOOKS
John Edgar Wideman's The Homewood Books is so named because they share characters, events, and locales, these two novels-- Hiding Place and Sent for You Yesterday -- and one collection of short stories --Damballah-- are set in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, where Wideman was raised.

As Wideman writes in his introduction to this edition, the three books "offer a continuous investigation, from many angles, not so much of a physical location, Homewood, . . . but of a culture, a way of seeing and being seen." Three voices and three perspectives dominate the story narrated in Hiding Place Bess, who has lost a son to the war, living a hermetic existence of Bruston Hill; tommy, who is fleeing the police for a murder charge he is not guilty of; and Clement, a simple boy who makes deliveries to Bess's house.

Damballah is a powerful collection of interrelated stories spanning a century in Homewood. The tales celebrate a community of people who, in the face of crisis, need, and fear, uphold each other through grace, courage, and dignity.

Winner of the 1984 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and named as one of the fifteen best books of 1983 by the New York Times Book Review, Sent for You Yesterday traces, through its narrator, Doot, the intertwining lives through time of the inhabitants of Homewood-- Lucy, Brother Tate, Albert Wilkes, Carl French, and their ancestors and offspring--- from the blues-oriented 1920s to the drug-influenced 1970s.

ISBN-10: 0822938316
ISBN-13: 9780822938316
Release Year: 1985
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press

082293831
Price: $26.95

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