Book Discussion: A Lesson Before Dying By Earnest Gains
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About the Event
A Lesson Before Dying is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. Jefferson, a young black man, is an unwitting party to a liquor store shoot out in which three men are killed; the only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Grant Wiggins, who left his hometown for the university, has returned to the plantation school to teach.
As he struggles with his decision whether to stay or escape to another state, his aunt and Jefferson's godmother persuade him to visit Jefferson in his cell and impart his learning and his pride to Jefferson before his death. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting and defying the expected. Ernest J. Gaines brings to this novel the same rich sense of place, the same deep understanding of the human psyche, and the same compassion for a people and their struggle that have informed his previous, highly praised works of fiction.
Ernest James Gaines (January 15, 1933 - November 5, 2019) was an American author whose works have been taught in college classrooms and translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian and Chinese. Four of his works were made into television movies. His 1993 novel, A Lesson Before Dying, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.
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