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John Edgar Wideman

Author of Philadelphia Fire

34+ Works 2,823 Members 34 Reviews 4 Favorited
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About the Author

Writer John Edgar Wideman was born in Washington, D. C., on June 14, 1941. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, studied at Oxford University, and was the second African American to become a Rhodes Scholar. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually founded and chaired show more the African American studies department. He also taught at the University of Wyoming and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Wideman is the author of more than a dozen books. Sent for You Yesterday won a PEN/Faulkner Award in 1984, and Philadelphia Fire received one a decade later. Fatheralong was a finalist for the National Book Award (1994) and Brothers and Keepers was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (1995). (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Photo by Robert Birnbaum (courtesy of the photographer)

Series

Works by John Edgar Wideman

Philadelphia Fire (1990) 389 copies
Brothers and Keepers (1984) 369 copies
The Best American Short Stories 1996 (1996) — Editor — 245 copies
Sent for You Yesterday (1983) 195 copies
The Cattle Killing (1996) 123 copies
Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (2016) — Author — 121 copies
Damballah (1981) 103 copies
Fanon (1605) — Author — 95 copies
Two Cities: A Love Story (1998) 95 copies
Fever (1989) 93 copies
The Homewood Trilogy (1985) 82 copies
Hiding Place (1981) 82 copies
Hoop Roots (1885) 77 copies

Associated Works

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (1983) — Contributor — 1,124 copies
The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (1992) — Contributor — 741 copies
The Best American Short Stories 2004 (2004) — Contributor — 556 copies
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories (1994) — Contributor — 477 copies
Live from Death Row (1995) — Introduction, some editions — 435 copies
The Best American Essays 2003 (2003) — Contributor — 313 copies
Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction (1990) — Preface; Contributor — 269 copies
The Best American Short Stories 2016 (2016) — Contributor — 257 copies
The Best American Essays 2010 (2010) — Contributor — 226 copies
Modern American Memoirs (1995) — Contributor — 188 copies
The Best American Essays 1995 (1995) — Contributor — 158 copies
Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writing (2002) — Contributor — 125 copies
The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction (2008) — Contributor — 122 copies
Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America (1995) — Contributor — 90 copies
Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers (1990) — Contributor — 65 copies
Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing Up in America (2003) — Contributor — 38 copies
I Hear a Symphony: African Americans Celebrate Love (1994) — Contributor — 33 copies
Best African American Fiction 2010 (2009) — Contributor — 30 copies
Race: An Anthology in the First Person (1997) — Contributor — 28 copies
The Conjure Stories [Norton Critical Edition] (2011) — Contributor — 20 copies
Brothers: 26 Stories of Love and Rivalry (2009) — Contributor — 13 copies

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AMERICAN AUTHORS CHALLENGE--MAY 2023--JOHN EDGAR WIDEMAN in 75 Books Challenge for 2023 (July 2023)

Reviews

The Homewood Trilogy collects three of John Edgar Wideman's works together, Damballah, Hiding Place, and Sent for You Yesterday. Collectively they have come to be known as a trilogy and having them in one volume is an excellent opportunity to read or reread these classics.

I first read them shortly after they came out then not again until I studied them. Getting this volume gave me the opportunity to again read them for pleasure, though this time I had a much better grounding in what is being accomplished. A couple of his later works had become what I immediately thought of when I thought of his writing, and I am so happy to be reminded of just how good these are.

Depending on your own background, you can read them as the story of a community, over time and through many changes. You might read it as a microcosm of the Black experience in the United States. You can appreciate what they say about storytelling, the importance of the oral tradition both historically and within specific communities, even juxtaposed with written storytelling. Maybe you can relate to feeling outcast from your own community or having to do work to fit into your community. These are all themes, among others, that are explored here.

But what makes this trilogy so wonderful is that you can, and should, read them for the wonderful writing and storytelling. Simply enjoy them. Then let the thoughts they will likely generate for you lead you into considering whatever themes speak to you. Don't, in other words, read them to "get" any messages, read for the pleasure of the text and let the messages come to you naturally. Some of my takeaways from this reading are certainly different, because of where I am in my own life and where I perceive the world to be right now, than when I first read them several decades ago.

Highly recommended for both those who will want to reread these works as well as a great introduction to those new to Wideman. But don't stop here!

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Flagged
pomo58 | Sep 12, 2023 |
Two cities of then and now. Before and after.
I knew I would like Wideman when I read the passage about taking people for a walk. Like dogs, people should be exercised to work out pent up energies and aggressions. People might be nicer.
Kassima has known trouble and a grief so deep it is truly a constant sorrow. She lost her husband and two sons all within ten months. Each death was a seemingly fluke accident of epic proportions. Her husband, serving time in prison contracted AIDS. One son died while playing Russian roulette while another was murdered; a revenge killing for a drug deal gone wrong that didn't concern him. Kassima doesn't sugar coat the cruel realities of what it means to be black growing up on mean streets, or a man serving time in prison. When she meets a new romance, Kassima is afraid to take a chance on love. It isn't until the death of a neighbor brings clarity to a life worth living.
Wideman's writing is like a photograph. Images of young men trash talking while playing a game of basketball is crystal clear.
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SeriousGrace | Jul 24, 2023 |
John Edgar Wideman's gift is an honest portrayal of African American life in a small fading Northern town.

In this final book of his trilogy, the background and deepest feelings of many characters are explored and evolve.

While the descriptor that 'Men work; women cook, clean and take care of children' sets the pace,
the fact of no jobs, no careers, no trades - nothing but dependence on white men's stopping at the corner -
destroys that balance, with the resultant poverty, depression, alcohol and drug addictions,
and increasing street violence and murders.

Friendships are long-lasting and the author involves us in these, as well as into
simply thinking about Silence. He wants us to pay attention to every little thing,
even repeating them until we get it and can't forget it.

From rainbow soap bubbles, to sounds on the train tracks to the slamming screen door and rocking chair,
multiple memorable images are woven into daily lives often dominated by despair and misery,
yet livened by dialogue like French and Wilkes have.

Great to see John French again and Freeda's love for him, plus her entirely different take on The Great Migration
immigrants and their effects on HOMEWOOD. A contrast with Jacob Lawrence. Mize.

Brother's roles - as lover, as a father who should not have trusted the care of Junebug to anyone but himself,
and his unkind betrayal (or was it the dream?) of Wilkes were a surprise.

(Wandering narrators sometimes hard to follow and sure could have lived without the treatment and murder of Junebug.)
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m.belljackson | 2 other reviews | May 19, 2023 |
HIDING PLACE delivers deeper welcome development of characters introduced in DAMBALLAH.

Homewood errand boy Clement has an expanded role and may have affected the final outcome.
Or did The Magic Blue Angel guide Bess down the hill for a rescue?

As well, the creation of the Frog Water Tower is vivid.

"Everything is in the taste of the soup" carries the day,
plus the surprise of humor with watermelon and coffee in the midst of all the fear and misery.

Mother visiting the prison: "...a world beyond stone walls, higher than God's mercy."

Not sure about the role of the heavily tainted water and why Spring and Summer smell bad.

"They want to kill him but he made it through the night."
He needs to stay alive to protect a favorite, Mr. Strayhorn!
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Flagged
m.belljackson | May 16, 2023 |

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Works
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Rating
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ISBNs
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