John Oliver Killens

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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).
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nunez's mentor John Oliver Killens worked for Hansberry while she was book review editor for the Freedom newspaper.
She expressed considerable interest in a book I was writing about John Oliver Killens. A beautiful spirit asking about a beautiful spirit.
This poignant tale (1952) by black novelist, essayist, editor, and cofounder of the Harlem Writers Guild John Oliver Killens (1916-87) drives the point home.
In 1963, John Oliver Killens, founder of the Harlem Writers' Guild, published his second novel, And Then We Heard the Thundera book that, according to Tablet Magazine contributing editor Josh Lambert, quickly succeeded in "electrifying and exasperating readers across the country." Partly based on Killens' experience fighting in World War Two, the controversial, Pulitzer-nominated book revolved around an unlikely friendship between two soldiersone black, one Jewishwho unite to attack the racist elements (and people) among them.
Keith Gilyard (author); JOHN OLIVER KILLENS; University of Georgia Press (Biography) $39.95 ISBN: 9780820335131
Runiko Rashidi, at least four are devoted to some aspect of Pushkin's biography, and sources mentioned include Gnammankou, as well as writing by Allison Blakely, Dorothy Trench-Bonett and John Oliver Killens. A site on "Writer Heroes" ( introduces Pushkin as "an inspiration to artist hero Paul Robeson," while the James Robinson Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University makes available in pdf forma pamphlet in commemoration of Pushkin's bicentennial in 1999 called "Popularizing Pushkin ...
The extraordinary African American writer John Oliver Killens joins our faculty as writer-in-residence.
* No serious study of the African-American novel from the 1950s to date can skip a reference to John Oliver Killens. LIBERATION MEMORIES: THE RHETORIC AND POETICS OF JOHN OLIVER KILLENS (Wayne State University Press, $29.95) by Keith Gilyard examines Killens's work as an essayist and cultural organizer, highlighting his activism.
Rap conveys a whole different way in which values, morals, ethics, and ideas are communicated--totally different from the way it was communicated by Richard Wright or Ralph Ellison or John Oliver Killens, or any of the great black writers that I read during my formative years.
Clarke, Ossie Davis, Grace Edwards, Bill For&, Keith Gilyard, Rosa Guy, John Oliver Killens, Louise Merriweather and Sarah Wright-and it's clear that some of that relentless struggle has borne fruit.
(8) John Oliver Killens, in the introduction to Black Southern Voices, argues that the Southern land is central to African American culture:
JOHN OLIVER KILLENS's large, multilayered, debut novel, Youngblood, was published in May 1954, the same month that the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown v.