Re: RARA-AVIS: Donald Goines

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 25 Mar 2004

miker wrote:

"I had to smile when I read the part about publishers being leery of marketing books with a black male protagonist."

I got the impression from the article that the problem was the type of black male protagonist, a street one with few, if any, redeeming qualities. As the article points out, Ellison, Wright, Baldwin, etc, who were thought to appeal to a more literary audience all found major publishers. And the same class battle goes on, as seen in the reaction to the pretty much stillborn Syndicated Books, which had planned to be a younger version of Holloway House, attaching a tie-in hip-hop CD to each of its books.

"The general rule of empathy is that like attracts like, so that means they were targeting black male readers, and publishers don't think they read."

And the writer of the article perpetuates this idea by making such a big point of how popular Goines's books are in prison, how DMX and many others first read him there, implying that his readership only picks up a book when they are confined with nothing else to do.


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