gaby's Reviews > If He Hollers Let Him Go

If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes
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's review
Jan 23, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: noir, los-angeles
Read in January, 2012

This novel isn't 'classically' noir, but I'll shelve it as such. The story of a black man trapped in a Los Angeles of molting racial values and perceptions during World War II, this book happens in parallel with so much of the gritty crime noir that's associated with that time and place. The novel is extremely candid in its truth-telling about the horrors and anxiety of simply Being Black during that time period, even in California. Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, the common denominator beyond racial subjugation and economic subjugation that is presented as the black male hero's sole source of power is the subjugation of women -- of any race. It is only in relation to women, and in particular in the act of dominance (or the choice not to dominate), that the hero of the story is able to grasp, even fleetingly and hesitantly, on to power and status of any kind.

In short, this novel is a shockingly honest and vulnerable portrait of race and gender relations at a critical point in the history of those issues. I definitely enjoyed this novel - and will read more by Himes (I'm looking forward to his detective stories).

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