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cloth 1-4399-0810-9 $74.50, Jan 13, Available
paper 1-4399-0811-7 $24.95, Jan 13, Available
Electronic Book 1-4399-0812-5 $24.95 Available
216 pp 6x9 9 halftones
"Pimping Fictions deftly shows the scholarly significance of the early ‘street lit’ authors by decoding their profound artistry while giving insight to the culture that gave it birth."
"Lush sex and stark violence colored Black and served up raw by a great Negro writer," promised the cover of Run Man Run, Chester Himes' pioneering novel in the black crime fiction tradition. In Pimping Fictions, Justin Gifford provides a hard-boiled investigation of hundreds of pulpy paperbacks written by Himes, Donald Goines, and Iceberg Slim (a.k.a. Robert Beck), among many others.
Gifford draws from an impressive array of archival materials to provide a first-of-its-kind literary and cultural history of this distinctive genre. He evaluates the artistic and symbolic representations of pimps, sex-workers, drug dealers, and political revolutionaries in African American crime literature—characters looking to escape the racial containment of prisons and the ghetto.
Gifford also explores the struggles of these black writers in the literary marketplace, from the era of white-owned publishing houses like Holloway House—that fed books and magazines like Players to eager black readers—to the contemporary crop of African American women writers reclaiming the genre as their own.
Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress
"Gifford’s groundbreaking study of the 'art and business of black crime literature' is ingenious in its embrace of elements of street literature from historical and literary perspectives along with the culture of the writers who produce it, the commercial enterprises that publish it, and the 'white-controlled spaces' they occupy and must negotiate.... In exploring how these writers, little noticed by academia or mainstream media, negotiate the connection between white-controlled spaces in urban centers, prisons, and publishing, Gifford makes a persuasive case for their importance."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An important book on a little studied subject, Pimping Fictions brings sharp critical attention to the tradition of African-American literary expression inspired by Iceberg Slim. As the first major scholarly consideration of the literature of pimping and hustling, Gifford's book offers both a valuable account of the marketing and publishing factors behind the growth of a new popular genre and keen critical insight into the artistry and innovation that the literature's authors brought to its conventions."
Sean McCann, Wesleyan University
"Gifford aims to inject greater awareness of black crime fiction into the history of African American cultural production, and his analyses of Chester Himes, Robert Beck, Donald Goines, and Players magazine fulfill that ambition. His book clarifies this popular yet understudied topic.... Summing Up: Recommended."
1. “He Jerked His Pistol Free and Fired It at the Pavement”: Chester Himes and the Transformation of American Crime Literature
2. Pimping Fictions: Iceberg Slim and the Invention of Pimp Literature
3. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Donald Goines, Holloway House Publishing Company, and the Radicalization of Black Crime Literature
4. Black in a White Paradise: Utopias and Imagined Solutions in Black Crime Literature
5. “For He Who Is”: Players Magazine and the Reimagining of the American Pimp
6. The Women of Street Literature: Contemporary Black Crime Fiction and the Rise of the Self-Publishing Marketplace
Justin Gifford is Associate Professor in English, and he holds the Jean Sanford Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities at the University of Nevada, Reno.
African American Studies
Literature and Drama
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