KINGSBLOOD ROYAL by Sinclair Lewis

KINGSBLOOD ROYAL

KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1947, Kirkus (March 15, p. 170) predicted—wrongly—that "any Sinclair Lewis book has tremendous sales impetus." Soon after publication, Kingsblood Royal fell out of print, and the cause seems apparent now: as much as readers readily took to Lewis's fictional attacks on American business (Dodsworth) and sham preachers (Elmer Gantry), they weren't quite prepared for his novel on race. Of course, they may have found this "thesis novel" (as we called it) too "contrived," and full of "exaggeration" and "stock characters." Fiction-writer Charles Johnson, in his introduction to this new edition, almost agrees with Kirkus, finding Lewis's tale of race relations in the Midwest "less a novel than a corrosively effective polemic." "Flawed and failed as a fully realized work," Lewis's tale of a white man who discovers a drop of black blood in his past nevertheless, in Johnson's opinion, speaks effectively to the present, and stands alongside the many great African-American novels of "passing." Even Kirkus admitted that Lewis's "fast-paced narrative abilities" and "sense of interplay of personalities. . . . drives home some unpalatable truths." We wished, though, he'd wielded a "rapier," not a "sledge hammer."

Pub Date: April 13th, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-75686-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Modern Library
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2001




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