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Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas

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Henry Dumas’s fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on surreal and mythic quests armed only with wit, words, and wisdom. Championed by Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, and Quincy Troupe, -Dumas’s books have long been out of print. All of his Henry Dumas’s fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on surreal and mythic quests armed only with wit, words, and wisdom. Championed by Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, and Quincy Troupe, -Dumas’s books have long been out of print. All of his short fiction is collected here, for the first time, and includes several previously unpublished stories. Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, moved to Harlem, joined the Air Force, attended Rutgers, worked for IBM, and taught at Hiram College in Ohio and Southern Illinois University. In 1968, at the age of thirty-three, he was shot and killed by a New York Transit Authority -policeman.


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Henry Dumas’s fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on surreal and mythic quests armed only with wit, words, and wisdom. Championed by Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, and Quincy Troupe, -Dumas’s books have long been out of print. All of his Henry Dumas’s fiction is a masterful synthesis of myth and religion, culture and nature, mask and identity. From the Deep South to the simmering streets of Harlem, his characters embark on surreal and mythic quests armed only with wit, words, and wisdom. Championed by Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, and Quincy Troupe, -Dumas’s books have long been out of print. All of his short fiction is collected here, for the first time, and includes several previously unpublished stories. Henry Dumas was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas, moved to Harlem, joined the Air Force, attended Rutgers, worked for IBM, and taught at Hiram College in Ohio and Southern Illinois University. In 1968, at the age of thirty-three, he was shot and killed by a New York Transit Authority -policeman.

30 review for Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas

  1. 4 out of 5

    Read By RodKelly

    This book was a bit of a challenge; one of those books that has me asking myself if I'm intelligent enough to fully appreciate its brilliance. I'm somewhere on the fence. I purchased it because of Toni Morrison's esteemed endorsement (and she's my literary queen!)...but Dumas writes from a place that's heavily inspired by themes that are so contemporaneous to the 1950s and 60s that it's hard to connect. Other times he writes big, heady fables that really take a lot of effort to understand.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian Slattery

    I cannot believe it took me so long to discover Henry Dumas.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    This is by far my favorite collection of short stories, the best that I've ever come across and will be hard to beat for sure. To understand these wonderfully written tales fully, is to understand their author, Henry Dumas. Born in a small, predominantly black town of Sweet Home, Arkansas , Dumas was raised in the church until moving to New York City. After graduating from high school in 1953, he joined the Air Force, stationed in San Antonio originally and then once more in Saudi Arabia. These This is by far my favorite collection of short stories, the best that I've ever come across and will be hard to beat for sure. To understand these wonderfully written tales fully, is to understand their author, Henry Dumas. Born in a small, predominantly black town of Sweet Home, Arkansas , Dumas was raised in the church until moving to New York City. After graduating from high school in 1953, he joined the Air Force, stationed in San Antonio originally and then once more in Saudi Arabia. These three areas shaped Dumas' personality and writing significantly, each contributing to the content and artistic style of his works. Sweet Home, a small rural Southern town influenced Dumas to incorporate folklore and Christian inspired themes, while northern urban Harlem gave Dumas a new cultural and political perspective during times of social unrest, uprising and rebellion, and Saudi Arabia broadening Dumas' spiritual consciousness and connection with a Higher force. Whether tales that serve as an extended metaphor for the injustices committed against Africans and black Americans during the times of enslavement and Jim Crow like "Ark of Bones" , "Rope of Wind" and "Fon" , tales that describe Urban black life post-Great Migration and during the Black Power movement like " A Harlem Game" , "Scout" and " Strike and Fade" , to an exercise of language,creativity and visual writing like " Will the Circle Be Unbroken ?" , "The Devil Bird" and more, Dumas wonderfully and masterfully paints pictures via written word. There's not one story I didn't enjoy , and I will be re-reading soon to fully experience and grasp the various magical worlds Dumas was able to pen into existence.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Markus

    Great short stories about civil rights and black life in the US (both rural and urban), set during a few different times and wavering between realist, eerie, mystical and symbolist tones. This is a must-read, but sometimes hard to find as a physical book outside the US. It is available on audible and from openlibrary though, so please give it a try.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Solita

    These are beautifully written stories. I mean beautiful writing. For me, reading this collection of short fiction was an amazing experience. I will def read more Henry Dumas. I don't recall every hearing about Dumas, and if I did, it was my mistake not to read him long before now. I came his across his name recently, so I decided to take a looksee. Wow, I'm so glad I did. This is the sort of writing I live to read. According to Dumas' bio, he was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas in 1934, moved to Ha These are beautifully written stories. I mean beautiful writing. For me, reading this collection of short fiction was an amazing experience. I will def read more Henry Dumas. I don't recall every hearing about Dumas, and if I did, it was my mistake not to read him long before now. I came his across his name recently, so I decided to take a looksee. Wow, I'm so glad I did. This is the sort of writing I live to read. According to Dumas' bio, he was born in Sweet Home, Arkansas in 1934, moved to Harlem when he was ten. He joined the Air Force, attended Rutgers, worked for IBM, taught at Hiram College in Ohio, and Southern Illinois University. In 1968, when he was only thirty-three, he was shot and killed by a New York Transit Authority policeman. "Under mysterious circumstances." (Hmm.) He was published posthumously and his work established him as central figure in the Black Arts Movement and an important voice in American Letters. Brilliant and beautiful writer.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mikal

    An interesting volume of short fiction and poetry, reflecting the ongoing search of identity and emancipation of the African American. It being an anthology, not really an all the way through read. A great set of abstract works.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rita

    See my email to self, subj; Toni Morrison. this may be the book of his for me to get and read. he wrote poetry, and short stories.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Law

    His last story "Riot or Revolt?" about the day after a riot in Harlem prompted by the police shooting a Black boy is, sadly, all to familiar.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    Fiction D8866e 2003

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eddie Sulecki

    Very good stories, I would recommend to those interested in African American literature.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Extramural Writer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jana

  13. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amy Lee

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dan Sherrell

  18. 5 out of 5

    badfred

  19. 5 out of 5

    glasses like clark kent

  20. 4 out of 5

    Roshad Demetrie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Spending Life

  22. 5 out of 5

    D.S.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Moss

  24. 5 out of 5

    Addison Hart

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tal

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Dill

  27. 4 out of 5

    Naori

  28. 4 out of 5

    Camlp

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  30. 5 out of 5

    Coffee House Press

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