Spring 1951 • Vol. XIII No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1951 |

A No to Nothing

A young man, let us call him X, is ushered unctuously LA. into the inner offices of a reputable American publisher (it could well be any major publisher). The young man is a Negro. A junior executive cordially greets him, offers him the luxury of a plush leather chair. "Now to get down to business," says our executive in smooth, soothing tones, "we want you to know that this is a liberal firm—why, we've printed the first works of many now-famous Negro authors." He names them. "Just what aspect of the Problem does your novel treat, Mr. X?" "None," replies X. "You mean you haven't dealt with a race theme?" "That's right." The expression on our executive's face changes. Then, hopefully, he asks, "Is your novel more of a general social problem like Willard Motley's Knock on Any Door?" "No, I am afraid I can't even say that." "Oh," sighs the executive, "we thought you had something else, something more topical, to offer us. Well, if you want to, let us see y

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.