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Chester Himes
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    (July 29, 1909-November 12, 1984)
    Born in Jefferson City, Missouri
    Wrote ‘If He Hollers, Let Him Go’ (1945), ‘Cast the First Stone’ (1952), ‘The Third Generation’ (1955), ‘Black on Black’ (1973) and ‘My Life of Absurdity’ (1976)
    Wrote the Harlem Detective series of crime novels, including ‘Real Cool Killers’ (1959), ‘All Shot Up’ (1960), ‘Cotton Comes to Harlem’ (1965) and ‘Blind Man with a Pistol’ (1969)
    While in college, he was arrested for using a fake ID and passing a bad check.
    While out on bail, he stole a car, drove to an upscale neighborhood, broke into a house, and robbed the couple inside at gunpoint.
    He served seven and a half years in prison.
    He went into exile in France (1953).
    Despite setting eight crime novels there, he had only briefly visited Harlem.
    He began getting short stories published in ‘Esquire’ while in prison.
    A brief Hollywood screenwriting career ended when Jack Warner heard about his hiring and declared, ‘I don’t want any niggers on this lot.’
    He won the Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, the most prestigious award in France for crime and detective fiction (1958).
    Henry Louis Gates called him ‘one of the towering figures of the black literary tradition.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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