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Not without Laughter (Dover Thrift Editions) [Paperback]

Langston Hughes
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 May 2008 0486454487 978-0486454481 Dover Ed
A leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, poet Hughes wrote only one novel — but it is an incredibly powerful and moving work. This 1930s coming-of-age tale, which unfolds amid an African-American family in rural Kansas, explores the dilemmas of life in a racially divided society.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; Dover Ed edition (30 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486454487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486454481
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.5 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter and Living 13 Nov 2002
Despite his considerable output of poetry, short stories and autobiographical work, this is Langston Hughes' only novel. It is the tremendously crafted story of Sandy, a black child of the 1920s in rural Kansas. In poignant tightly written chapters, Hughes' depicts various events in Sandy's life often slipping into the perspective of those closest to him. Sandy lives most his life with his strong-willed and deeply religious grandmother Aunt Hager. She is a benevolent woman who desires peaceful racial relations despite the overwhelming amount of racism and discrimination professed by both white and black community members. Sandy's mother Annjee is a loving and hard working woman eternally devoted to her husband Jimboy who is a good hearted man constantly on the move. Sandy's aunt Tempy is a well-off woman trying to immerse herself in white society and denigrating her own race in the process. His other aunt Harriett is a wilful woman who turns from the church for a different kind of existence. Through these expertly drawn characters, Sandy views their examples and he must make the choices that will effect his future. The novel is a tremendous chronicle of the struggle of a family to survive financially. It gives accounts of the psychological dilemma created by growing in a racially divided society and the diffuse joy in life that can be found even in troubling circumstances.
Maya Angelou wrote of Not Without Laughter: "This book was written when preachers had to be poets and poets were preachers, because they needed to be available to all the people all the time." The messages this novel gives are not subtle. But, through its varied perspectives and eloquently written prose, it envelops the issues it preaches with emotionally edifying ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The peoples poet 4 Nov 2002
Langston Hughes is, of course, best known as a poet. His poetry has brought him international acclaim with its strong sense of empathy with humanity. He deals in universal themes, writing in clear language, and using ideas and concepts familiar to almost everyone. A genuine 20th centuary Wordsworth.
"Not Without Laughter" is the only novel by the author. Written in 1930 it tells the story of a young black child called Sandy born into poverty in a small Kansas town. Worlds collide, the older members of the close knit community represented in the first half of the book still remember the time of slavery, whilst the younger members struggle to find their place in a society free from slavery but shackled by poverty. Throughout the novel Sandy struggles to find a way of escaping poverty and dead end, repetative jobs, without turning his back on his race, and without losing his sense of identity.
It is capitalism that brought his race to America, and capitalism that kept his race in servitude long after the abolition of slavery. Yet it is capitalism that Sandy must embrace if he is to rise from poverty and gain the respect that his obvious intelligence deserves. How does Sandy do this without becoming cruel in the image of the economic system that he and his forebears have suffered at?
Omnipresent in this melee of big serious questions is Hughes' trademark empathy with people. It is a novel full of life, with music, religion, alcohol, sex, fighting and, of course, always in the background is laughter. There seems to be a suggestion that life is at its most colourful and vivacious when it is hard.
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By A Customer
Langston Hughes is a truly gifted writer. In this story he shows six different characters, all afflicted by racism and the numerous tactics each devises to combat its force. Their methods include,hating white america, enduring the blow, assimilating, laughing in the faces and then there is Sandy...He is slowing coming of age amidst all of these adults that he loves and admires, but soon he shall have to pick a path of his own. He knows that he must fight against the threat of racisim with out developing so much anger it consumes him as well. He knows must stand up for the race and culture he loves and some how advance his people with the power of his life. This story, is one of the best depictions of a black family that I have come across and can relate to. I miss Langston, and I love his legacy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 15 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved this book. Historical and informative. Funny and poignant. Noe seeking out all books by Mr Hughes and researching the many references to his artistic contemporaries. Highly recommend.
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