ETHIOPIAN STORIES by George Samuel Schuyler


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 Two intriguing 1930s novellas, fine examples of a then-popular genre: literary Pan-Africanism. When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, racial patriotism ran high in the US, and American blacks rallied behind the ancient African kingdom. These two stories combine propaganda and entertainment; while they read like straightforward murder mysteries, they demonstrate the commitment of essayist, journalist, and satirist Schuyler (18851977) to the outcome of Ethiopia's struggle. An influential writer during the Harlem Renaissance, Schuyler rejected the idea of a black aesthetic and criticized the movement as ``The Negro-Art Hokum,'' yet many of his articles and editorials for the influential Pittsburgh Courier are now considered classics of African-American journalism. As editor Hill (History/UCLA) points out in his evocative foreword, Schuyler had the creativity to convey his ideas to a general audience, both in journalism and--in the case of these novellas and two other stories recently reissued under the title Black Empire (1991)--in pulp fiction. The first work here, ``The Ethiopian Murder Mystery,'' opens with the discovery of a dead Ethiopian prince in a Sugar Hill apartment. The police charge a prominent Harlem socialite, who admits to being with him minutes before the coroner's estimated time of death, but insists he was still breathing when she left. A young newspaper reporter convinced of her innocence does some inspired sleuthing and unravels a conspiracy involving a death ray with which the Ethiopians could annihilate the invading Italians. In the second tale, ``Revolt in Ethiopia,'' a rich American interested only in the good life abroad falls in love with an Ethiopian princess seeking to procure money to support her country's freedom fighters. When the Italians kill her bodyguard, the American comes to her rescue and joins her on a perilous journey to retrieve precious jewels from an ancient mountain sect in the hills of Ethiopia. Proof that art and politics do mix.

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 1994
ISBN: 1-55553-204-7
Page count: 229pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1994


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