A Black Writer Found Tolerance in France, and a Different Racism

By James Hannaham

When William Gardner Smith submitted what would be his final novel, THE STONE FACE (New York Review Books, paper, $16.95), to a French publisher, his friend and biographer LeRoy Hodges recalled, the editor told Smith it was “very courageous to have written the book, but we can’t publish it in France.” How could a courageous novel by an established writer have met with such immediate dismissal? In America, “The Stone Face” (1963) had been accepted by Farrar, Straus, like Smith’s three previous novels. Why not France?

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