Ginny Gall: black suffering, aspiration and endurance in the Jim Crow South

Angela Flournoy in The New York Times:

Boo2When Delvin Walker, the protagonist of Charlie Smith’s novel “Ginny Gall,” is deep into his prison sentence for a crime he did not commit, a fellow inmate introduces him to the work of Zora Neale Hurston. The inmate quotes a line memorized from Hurston’s essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”: “I do not belong to that sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature has somehow given them a lowdown dirty deal.” Delvin lets out a low whistle of disbelief in response. “Well, no wonder I never heard of that woman,” he says, and the inmate posits that, unlike them, Hurston must be “somebody who’s found a way out of the general disrespectfulness.” “Ginny Gall,” Smith’s eighth novel, is an intricate examination of the coming-of-age of a young black man caught in the cross hairs of American racial history. It is a sustained look at black suffering in the Jim Crow South, and a meditation on the hows and whys of black endurance.

The novel attempts to answer the question implied by Hurston’s quote and rightly picked up by Delvin and his friend: How can a person resist succumbing to that sobbing school of Negrohood when his life is filled with racial injustice and general, persistent disrespect? And why not succumb? With a story that is equal parts — and often simultaneously — moving and harrowing, Smith offers no easy answer, but suggests that the small, fleeting, unin­fringeable moments of life itself may hold the key.

More here. (Note: At least one post will be dedicated to honor Black History Month throughout February)