Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Great, but forgotten writers:1:Frank Yerby

Frank Yerby was a great writer according to any criteria you might choose: he was the first black author to have a novel published and then filmed by Hollywood; he published 33 novels in his career as a novelist; and he sold around 75 million books.

75 million is a lot of books: proof indeed that Yerby had a lot of readers.

Yet his name is not known these days--most of his novels can be picked up quite cheaply in second-hand shops or at fete stalls and the like. Why is this? Probably because Yerby wrote to entertain his readers, not to please critics: his books are not the kind that get prescribed as 'literature'. But they make wonderful reading. The characters are strong and leap from the page: villains are truly nasty (and usually powerful and rich) and heroes are those with good hearts and honest values who stand up against the villains and win through in the end. I discovered Yerby's novels whilst still a teenager and the feeling of joy that I got from reading them has never left me.

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