Ernest Gaines


Ernest Gaines

Infobox writer


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name = Ernest J. Gaines
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birthdate = January 15, 1933
birthplace = Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana
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occupation = writer
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notableworks = "A Lesson Before Dying"; "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman"; "A Gathering of Old Men"
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awards = National Book Critics Circle Award; MacArthur Foundation fellow; American Academy of Arts and Letters; National Humanities Medal; Order of Arts and Letters


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Ernest J. Gaines (born January 15, 1933), a prominent African-American fiction writer, is a writer-in-residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Gaines's fiction has received critical acclaim. His works have been taught in college classrooms and translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Chinese. Four of his works have been produced into television movies. [Lockhart, John M. "Words & Music", " [http://www.riversidereader.com The Riverside Reader] ", February 4, 2008, p. 1]

His 1993 novel, "A Lesson Before Dying", won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In 2004, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Gaines has been a MacArthur Foundation fellow, inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, awarded the National Humanities Medal, and inducted into the French Order of Arts and Letters as a Chevalier.

Biography

Gaines was among the fifth generation of his sharecropper family to be born on the River Lake Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, an influence and common setting for his fiction. He was the eldest of 12 children, raised by his aunt, who was crippled and had to crawl to get around the house. Although born generations after the end of slavery, Gaines grew up impoverished, in old slave quarters on the plantation.

Gaines's first six years of school took place in the plantation church. A visiting teacher would teach him and the other children for five to six months of each year, depending on when the children were not picking cotton in the fields. Gaines's then spent three years at St. Augustine School, a Catholic school for African Americans in New Roads. Pointe Coupée Parish schooling for African-American children did not continue beyond the eighth grade during this time.

When he was fifteen, Gaines moved to Vallejo, California to join his mother and stepfather, who had left Louisiana during World War II. His first novel was written at age 17, while babysitting his youngest brother. According to one account, he wrapped it in brown paper, tied it with string, and sent it to a New York publisher, who rejected it. Gaines burned the manuscript, but later rewrote it to become his first published novel, "Catherine Carmier".

In 1956, Gaines published his first short story, "The Turtles", in a college magazine at San Francisco State University. He earned a degree in literature in 1957 from SFSU. After spending two years in the Army, he won a writing fellowship to Stanford University.

Since 1984, Gaines has spent the first half of every year in San Francisco and the second half in Lafayette, where he teaches a creative writing workshop every autumn at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Ernest Gaines currently maintains a residence on Louisiana Highway 1 in Oscar, Louisiana, where he and his wife built a home on part of the old plantation where he grew up [http://www.calstateeastbaynews.com/news/publish/article_638.shtml] .

Published works

Books
*"" (2005)
*"A Lesson Before Dying" (1993) – National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction (1993); Oprah's Book Club (1997)
*"A Gathering of Old Men" (1983) [http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-gatheringoldmen/intro.html]
*"In My Father's House" (1978)
*"A Long Day in November" (1971)
*"The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (1971)
*"Bloodline" (1968)
*"Of Love and Dust" (1967)
*"Catherine Carmier" (1964)

Short stories
*"My Grandpa and the Haint" (1966)
*"A Long Day in November" (1964)
*"The Sky Is Gray" (1963)
*"Just Like a Tree" (1963)
*"Mary Louis" (1960)
*"Boy in the Double-Breasted Suit" (1957)
*"The Turtles" (1956)

Works made into film
*"A Lesson Before Dying", HBO (1999); winner, Emmy Award for Outstanding Made For Television Movie
*"A Gathering of Old Men", CBS Television (1987)
*"The Sky Is Gray", American Short Story Series, PBS (1980)
*"The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman", CBS Television (1974)

Awards

*Chevalier (Knight) in the Order of Art and Letters (France) (2000)
*The American Academy of Arts and Letters Department of Literature (2000)
*The National Governors’ Arts Award (2000)
*The Louisiana Writer of the Year Award (2000)
*National Humanities Medal (2000)
*National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (1993)
*John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow (1993)
*Dos Passos Prize (1993)
*Louisiana Humanist of the Year (1993)
*Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation fellow (1971)
*National Endowment for the Arts grant (1967)
*Wallace Stegner fellow (1957)

Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

An award sponsored by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and established in 2007 to honor Gaines' legacy. Submissions of fiction from African-American writers are eligible. The selected recipient receives a $10,000 award.

Quotes

*"Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Everything."
*"Sometimes you got to hurt something to help something. Sometimes you have to plow under one thing in order for something else to grow."
*"The mark of fear is not easily removed."
*"There will always be men struggling to change, and there will always be those who are controlled by the past."
*"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?"
*"Words mean nothing. Action is the only thing. Doing. That's the only thing."

ources

* [http://www.louisiana.edu/Academic/LiberalArts/ENGL/Creative/Faculty/Gaines.htm UL Lafayette bio]
* [http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/gaines/bio.html Random House bio]
* [http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/1469/Ernest_Gaines_a_soulful_writer The African American Registry]
* [http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/e/ernest_gaines.html Quotes source]
* [http://www.ernestgainesaward.org/site/c.jlKULbMTIsG/b.2431193/k.BE15/Home.htm Ernest J. Gaines Award]

References

External links

* [http://www.louisiana.edu/Academic/LiberalArts/ENGL/Creative/Anthology/Gaineswork.htm Samples of Gaines' writing]
* [http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0209&article=020921 Interview with Gaines]
* [http://www.reesefuller.com/words/20030305.html Article about Gaines: "Going Home"]
* [http://www.reesefuller.com/words/gaines1.html Interview with Gaines: "Going Home: the transcript"]
* [http://www.ernestgainesaward.org/site/c.jlKULbMTIsG/b.2431193/k.BE15/Home.htm Ernest J. Gaines Award]
* [http://community.muohio.edu/oxmag/node/24 Interview with Ernest Gaines for OxMag]


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