Paul Gilroy and Adam Shatz on William Gardner Smith’s The Stone Face

William Gardner Smith’s roman à clef about racism, identity, and bohemian living against the backdrop of violence of Algerian War-era France, has been out of print for decades, but as one reviewer put it, ‘the issues Smith raises … resonate at least as much now as they did six decades ago.’ The story of a Black writer who, like Smith himself (and Josephine Baker and James Baldwin), moved to Paris to pursue a freedom he couldn’t find in America, its account of his disillusionment and dawning consciousness of Algeria’s struggle for independence includes one of the earliest published accounts of the Paris Massacre of 1961.

Adam Shatz, who wrote the introduction for NYRB’s new edition, discussed The Stone Face’s achievement and contemporary resonances with Paul Gilroy, Professor of the Humanities at UCL and the Holberg Prize-winning author of There Ain’t No Black in the Union JackThe Black Atlantic and Darker Than Blue.

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