Remembering Ernest J. Gaines (1933 – 2019)

By Candice Chaplin | November 6 2019 | AuthorsAward WinnersFiction

“Ernest J. Gaines, award-winning novelist and author of the acclaimed The Autobiography of Jane Pittman, and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient, died of a heart attack while sleeping at his home in Oscar, Louisiana. He was 86.

A member of a longtime family of Louisiana sharecroppers, Gaines was born in poverty on the River Lake Plantation near False River. He was schooled on the plantation by seasonal visiting teachers and eventually moved to California at the age of 15 (schooling for African American kids ended at the 8th grade). Gaines attended San Francisco State University, and served two years in the Army, before winning a writing fellowship to Stanford University.”

– Publishers Weekly

Several of Gaines’ titles are shown below. To see a complete list:

  • On the Backlist Vault, click here.
  • On Edelweiss,click here.
A Lesson Before Dying
A Novel
“This majestic, moving novel is an instant classic, a book that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives.”—Chicago Tribune Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, A Lesson Before Dying is a deep and compassionate novel about a young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to visit a black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting. From the critically acclaimed author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
$14.00 US
Sep 28, 1997
US, Canada, Open Mkt

A Gathering of Old Men
A powerful depiction of racial tensions arising over the death of a Cajun farmer at the hands of a black man--set on a Louisiana sugarcane plantation in the 1970s. The Village Voice called A Gathering of Old Men “the best-written novel on Southern race relations in over a decade.”
$15.95 US
Jun 30, 1992
US, Canada, Open Mkt

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
"This is a novel in the guise of the  tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has  lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a  witness to the black militancy of the 1960's. In this  woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure,  a woman equipped to stand beside William  Faulkner's Dilsey in The Sound And The  Fury." Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has  'endured,' has seen almost everything and foretold the  rest. Gaines' novel brings to mind other  great works The Odyssey for the way  his heroine's travels manage to summarize the  American history of her race, and Huckleberry  Finn for the clarity of her voice, for  her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years  and things to find the one true story in it all."  -- Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek."Stunning. I know of no  black novel about the South  that excludes quite the same refreshing mix of wit  and wrath, imagination and indignation, misery and  poetry. And I can recall no more memorable female  character in Southern fiction since Lena of  Faulkner's Light In August than Miss  Jane Pittman." -- Josh Greenfeld,  Life
$7.99 US
Jul 01, 1982
Mass Market Paperback
US, Canada, Open Mkt

The Tragedy of Brady Sims
Ernest J. Gaines's new novella about a courthouse shooting that leads a young reporter to uncover the long story of race and power in his small town and the relationship between the white sheriff and the black man who "whipped children" to keep order. A Vintage Original.
$16.95 US
Aug 29, 2017
US, Canada, Open Mkt