HE STONE FACE by William Gardner Smith


Email this review


Race hatred is the ""Stone Face"" in this somewhat didactic, naive, but basically quite interesting novel. Simeon Brown, an American Negro, flees a bitter past and settles in Paris. There, equal and merely American, he undergoes a curious shift in viewpoint. At first edgily shedding defenses and exploring his new freedom with other interracial expatriates, later, through his Polish mistress (who proves to be Jewish, with a childhood spent in concentration camps) and chance-met Algerians (treated more brutally in Paris than Negroes in America), he realizes slowly that race hate is not personal but universal, irrational, its victims changing from country to country. His expatriate friends begin to pall. Simeon joins a riot with the Algerians, but finally, no longer an escapist nor a member of a separate race, leaves to become a teacher. Despite the rather flat prose, the theme is well developed in some fine oblique scenes and a few shocking comparisons between various ghettos, concentration camps, riots and tortures. A thought-provoking and an oddly humanizing and liberating book.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 1963
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.