Posted on 13 September 2010 Monday

MailMondayMeme originated with Ari@ Reading in Color

Click for a sample chapter

I ran across Ernest Hill a few years ago during one of my random Internet searches for POC books. I added Cry Me A River to my school media center collection and when a teacher told me that one of her students related to the book so well that he wanted to just keep it, I decided to add more of Hill’s books. I’m reminded of him again because his most recent book, Family Ties is about to be released. This book, again, I found in a random Internet search.

As we constantly bemoan the dearth of male writers of color, why do we hear so little about Ernest Hill? Here’s a little background information on Mr. Hill and I hope that after reading, you’ll decide to purchase his book to add to your school or personal collection.

from his official webpage:

Ernest Hill was born in Oak Grove, Louisiana, the fourth of ten children. Raised by very progressive parents, Hill was taught the value of honesty, hard work, and education. He was also taught to dream of a life beyond the narrow confines of the small town into which he had been born.

As a young boy, Ernest grew up amid strict segregation. Outhouses, unpaved streets, and tin roof shanties, were still a way of life in the small rural Louisiana town. As a result, his formal education began at Combs McIntyre, a small, understaffed, segregated black school. By the beginning of his fourth year of school, profound political and social changes swept through the south. The struggle for desegregation was won and the equal opportunities that everyone thought would accompany the victory were now a reality.

Click for synopsis and reviewsIn 1970, Hill and many of his peers from Combs McIntyre entered the previously all white Oak Grove Elementary and High School system. In spite of the constant bomb threats, fights, and racial altercations, Hill quickly won over his classmates and teachers with his exceptional athletic abilities, which not only made his transition a smooth one but eventually earned him a football scholarship to Northeast Louisiana University.  Hill remained at NLU until injuries ended his football career. In 1981, at the suggestion of his older brother (a recent Yale grad who played for the Oakland Raiders), Hill transferred to the University of California, Berkeley.

During his first year at Berkeley, Hill enrolled in an Afro-American History class taught by a dynamic scholar, Earl Lewis. That class sparked a passion for studying and understanding African-American history and culture.  That passion led Hill to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Social Science with an emphasis on history. After earning his undergraduate degree from Berkeley, Hill enrolled at Cornell University to pursue a master’s degree in Africana Studies.

At Cornell, Hill met and befriended Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who later became his advisor. It was Hill’s relationship with Gates that nudged him towards writing. He completed his first novel, Satisfied with Nothin, while working on his doctoral degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, as a Dorothy Danforth Compton Fellow. This books was semi-autobiographical, set in rural Louisiana.

Click for sample chapter

In subsequent years, Hill went on to become the critically acclaimed author of four additional novels, A Life For A Life, Cry Me A River, It’s All About the Moon When the Sun Ain’t Shining and A Person of Interest. He also conducts workshops to inspire new writers.

The best source for reviews of Mr. Hill’s work that I’ve found is GoodReads.

Posted in: male monday