Heralded by some as the best African American author writing in America today, Ernest James Gaines is best known and celebrated for his novel The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. As a black writer, Gaines has taken full advantage of African American culture by writing stories about rural Louisiana. In doing so, Gaines has made himself a "country-boy writer" of folk tales more grown than made. These stories tell of the struggles of blacks to make a living in a land that has not championed the rights of all its people.
The story of Miss Jane Pittman is a supposed interview with a woman who is 110 years old. She has witnessed and been a part of the history of black America since the end of the Civil War. She tells her story to the persistent recorder in her own words and with humor. This "editor" admits that he restructured the narrative so it would be more accessible to a novel reader but he tried to maintain, as much as possible, her voice. A triumph in American literature, the subject of the novel has been taken to the heart of its readers, and was made into an Emmy Award-winning television movie.