A Gathering of Old Men
by Ernest J. Gaines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Gathering of Old Men / 0-679-73890-8
"A Gathering of Old Men" is an incredibly powerful and moving look into a community that has collectively had enough discrimination and pain to last lifetimes, and decides as a whole that enough is enough.
When racial tensions are charged over the murder of a white landowner by a local black man, the sheriff is astonished and amazed at the number of black men who come forward to insist that they are guilty of the crime. While this flood of confessions seems, at first, to be an attempt to shield the "real" murderer, it quickly becomes clear that there is more at stake here. The men individually relate the horrors they have witnessed: the rapes, the beatings, the murders, and all the other crimes that the local white men have committed against them freely and without fear. Each of them insists that they had simply "had enough" and that this final straw was their motive for the murder.
The sight of these weathered old men camped stubbornly about the dead body, each insisting that he is the killer and each detailing the horrors they have silently watched will move the reader to tears. At the end, the community is deeply shaken by the realization that the "reality" they have always taken for granted does not reflect the deep inner feelings of the members.
~ Ana Mardoll
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