From the author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman comes a deep and compassionate novel. A young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to teach visits a black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.
Despite the novel's gallows humor and an atmosphere of pervasively harsh racism, the characters, black and white, are humanly complex and have some redeeming quality...."A Lesson Before Dying," though it suffers an occasional stylistic lapse, powerfully evokes in its understated tone the "new wants" in the 1940's that created the revolution of the 1960's. Ernest J. Gaines has written a moving and truthful work of fiction. -- New York Times