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Not Without Laughter Paperback – March 1, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 197 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is another in the new Scribner Paperback Fiction line. Poet Hughes made the jump to fiction with this 1930 first novel of an African American boy's coming of age in a small Kansas town.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Langston Hughes (1902–1967) was born in Joplin, Missouri, and lived much of his life in Harlem, New York. As one America’s most cherished chroniclers of the black experience, known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes’s work was constantly groundbreaking throughout his forty-six-year career. His poetry about the ocean and the symbolism that surrounds it stems from his travels through Africa and Europe working as a seaman.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 299 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0020209851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020209850
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric Anderson on August 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
Despite his considerable output of poetry, short stories and autobiographical work, this is Langston Hughes' only novel. It is the tremendously crafted story of Sandy, a black child of the 1920s in rural Kansas. In poignant tightly written chapters, Hughes' depicts various events in Sandy's life often slipping into the perspective of those closest to him. Sandy lives most his life with his strong-willed and deeply religious grandmother Aunt Hager. She is a benevolent woman who desires peaceful racial relations despite the overwhelming amount of racism and discrimination professed by both white and black community members. Sandy's mother Annjee is a loving and hard working woman eternally devoted to her husband Jimboy who is a good hearted man constantly on the move. Sandy's aunt Tempy is a well-off woman trying to immerse herself in white society and denigrating her own race in the process. His other aunt Harriett is a wilful woman who turns from the church for a different kind of existence. Through these expertly drawn characters, Sandy views their examples and he must make the choices that will effect his future. The novel is a tremendous chronicle of the struggle of a family to survive financially. It gives accounts of the psychological dilemma created by growing in a racially divided society and the diffuse joy in life that can be found even in troubling circumstances.
Maya Angelou wrote of Not Without Laughter: "This book was written when preachers had to be poets and poets were preachers, because they needed to be available to all the people all the time." The messages this novel gives are not subtle. But, through its varied perspectives and eloquently written prose, it envelops the issues it preaches with emotionally edifying ideas.
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Format: Hardcover
For those who like and admire the poetic works of Langston Hughes, this is the book to purchase. This book collects all the "known" and "published" poems written by Hughes within his lifetime and at the different stages in his life. You have the so-called "race" poems that celebrate the dignity and beauty of black Americans, you have the poems of social protest such as those written during the 1930's that deal with inequality and injustice common to all regardless of race, the poems meant for children, and you even have the trite subject matter about love lost and found and springtime, nearly all written in the style of jazz and the blues that Hughes loved so much. Congrates must go to Arnold Rampersad and David Rossel for the effort in gathering these poems in their most current rendition as Hughes last wrote them. An effort was made by the editors to put the poems in the order they were written and published. A number of the poems were meant to be accompanied by jazz and blues music or read aloud in a specific way to drive home the point of the piece.

At first glance, all the poems collected in this book appear simple and straight foreward. But, Hughes was skilled at putting a lot of meaning into just a few lines of his work. An example are the poems "Cross" and "Mulatto" which tell how the mixed bloodlines of every decendent of the pure blooded African slave and European came to exist today in modern black America and how prejudice denied them the right to claim all their heritages (political correct stereotypes, labels, are doing the same today!!!). My favorite of the poems here is "Dream Variation." Carl Van Vetchen truncated some of the poem in his introduction to the the WEARY BLUES, the first book by Hughes.
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Format: Paperback
Langston Hughes is a truly gifted writer. In this story he shows six different characters, all afflicted by racism and the numerous tactics each devises to combat its force. Their methods include,hating white america, enduring the blow, assimilating, laughing in the faces and then there is Sandy...He is slowing coming of age amidst all of these adults that he loves and admires, but soon he shall have to pick a path of his own. He knows that he must fight against the threat of racisim with out developing so much anger it consumes him as well. He knows must stand up for the race and culture he loves and some how advance his people with the power of his life. This story, is one of the best depictions of a black family that I have come across and can relate to. I miss Langston, and I love his legacy.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book when I had to write an essay on the poems of Langston Hughes. I will refer to and enjoy this book forever. The poems of Langston Hughes are timeless and poignant; sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes uplifting. I firmly believe that some of his poems should be required reading for ALL Americans. If you're a fan of Hughes, add this book to your collection-- you'll have almost every poem he ever wrote at your fingertips. If you haven't been introduced to the illustrious Langston Hughes, you will not regret picking up this book.
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Format: Paperback
I've long been a fan of Hughes work, but was not aware of how much he had written until I got this collection. It is too bad that Hughes is often labeled as a "Harlen Renaissance" poet and then dismissed, because his poetry still holds meaning today for anyone willing to hear it. Hughes states his universal truths in an American voice, while at the same time exposing the flaws of American society (flaws which in many ways still exist today as much as they did in the 20's, 30's and 40's).
This is great poetry, and I still read from it again and again. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone.
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