National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying

by Ernest J. Gaines

In all my stories and novels, no one ever escapes Louisiana.


Ernest Gaines (Copyright Joseph Sanford)

The novel has a long history of championing social justice. Fiction has the signal ability to embody social ideas in a compelling narrative that possesses both emotional and intellectual power. Ernest J. Gaines's A Lesson Before Dying offers a painful yet inspirational tale of institutional injustice and personal redemption. It addresses the biggest theme possible—how one affirms life in the face of death.

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