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Novelist Chester B. Himes’ 1945 masterpiece If He Hollers Let Him Go is as much a protest novel as it is a Los Angeles noir. Over the span of four days, protagonist Bob Jones, a Black man navigating a prejudiced World War II-era America, moves from Ohio to California and lands a job as a naval shipyard crew leader in L.A. As he begins working, the oppression of the Black community permeates his every interaction, and life under a constant threat of violence takes a toll. Soon, Jones finds himself in a verbal altercation with his bigoted, white employee Madge Perkins. Demoted while Perkins goes unpunished, Jones is angry—and perhaps even fascinated—with his oppressors, which sparks a chain reaction that explores the complexities of desire and rage in a racist society. Himes’ groundbreaking, psychosexual thriller is uncompromising and raw, and highlights an ever-present story of racism that still rings true today. —Rachel Sonis

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