Finally available after three decades, a lost classic of the Harlem Renaissance that Langston Hughes acclaimed for its “hard poetic beauty.”Eric Walrond (1898–1966), in his only book, injected a profound Caribbean sensibility into black literature. His work was closest to that of Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston with its striking use of dialect and its insights into the daily lives of the people around him. Growing up in British Guiana, Barbados, and Panama, Walrond first published Tropic Death to great acclaim in 1926. This book of stories viscerally charts the days of men working stone quarries or building the Panama Canal, of women tending gardens and rearing needy children. Early on addressing issues of skin color and class, Walrond imbued his stories with a remarkable compassion for lives controlled by the whims of nature. Despite his early celebrity, he died in London in 1966 with minimal recognition given to his passing. Arnold Rampersad’s elegant introduction reclaims this classic work and positions Walrond alongside the prominent writers of his age.
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