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

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