Kelley's 1967 novel is here reprinted as part of the press's Black Arts Movement Series: books from the resurgence of African-American literature during the ’60s and early ’70s. For this edition, John Wright provides a long scholarly introduction placing the novel in its historical context. On dem's first appearance, Kirkus (July 15, 1967, p. 828) noted its episodic form, and its racial schematics, especially in the fourth section, in which a woman gives birth to twins, one black and one white. Overall, though, "some very good writing carries along the excess of symbolism." Finding it more contrived than Kelley's other work, we found it also "more angry," as well as a "powerful and delicate handling of a heavy theme and an unwieldy plot."