In 1937 Chester Himes, newly released from a seven-year stretch in the Ohio State Penitentiary for grand larceny, began his first novel, Yesterday Will Make You Cry. By turns brutal and lyrical and never less than totally honest, it tells the autobiographical story of young Jimmy Monroe's passage through the prison system, which tests the limits of his sanity, his capacity for suffering, and his definition of love. Stunningly candid about racism, homosexuality, and prison corruption, the book would take sixteen years and four subsequent revisions before being published in a much-altered form as Cast the First Stone in 1953. Even bowdlerized, it was recognized as a sardonic masterpiece of debasement and transfiguration. This edition, the first hardcover publication in Norton's Old School Books series, presents for the first time the book precisely as Himes intended it to be read, with its raw honesty and startling compassion entirely intact.
The book's strengths lie in Himes's unflinching ability to stare down terrible truths and his finely detailed portrayal of men in conditions of great adversity. . . . Rage tempered with compassion is the backbone of this story -- and what makes it eminently worth reading. -- New York Times