John Oliver Killens

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Killens, John Oliver


Born in 1916, in Macon, Ga. American black writer. Son of a worker.

Killens was active in the trade union movement. During World War II (1939–45) he served as a soldier in the US Army. In the late 1950’s, Killens headed the writers’ guild in Harlem (New York). He was active in the movement to obtain equal rights for blacks. His novel Youngblood (1954; Russian translation, 1959), which contains features of naturalism, deals with the life of a black working-class family in the state of Georgia during the 1920’s and 1930’s; the novel is permeated with the spirit of the liberation struggle. The fate of a black member of the intelligentsia who becomes convinced of the falseness of American democracy is shown in Killens’ novel And Then We Heard the Thunder (1963; Russian translation, 1965).


Limanovskaia, V. “’Molodaia krov.’ “ Inostrannaia literatura, 1955, no. 3. (A review.)
Landor, M. “Schast’e nepokorstva.” Druzhba narodov, 1959, no. 7. (A review).
References in periodicals archive ?
Those literary figures read like a who's who list of 20th-century African American writers, including Sterling Brown, Amiri Baraka, John Killens and Ntozake Shange.
LM: Did you have John Killens read through your manuscript of Down These Mean Streets?
For James Baldwin and RALPH ELLISON and John Killens and JACOB LAWRENCE and Carl Stokes and ROMARE BEARDEN and Hoyt Fuller and HENRY BLAKELY and Dick Gregory and WILLIAM GRAY and William Hastie and RICHARD HATCHER and Richard Pryor and RICHARD WRIGHT and Spike Lee and RANDALL ROBINSON and Tom Joyner and THOMAS SHROPSHIRE and Virgis Colbert and CHRIS ROCK.
John Killens had barely begun his reading when the phone rang.