If you are asking for the original publication date, that is 1993. Ernest Gaines placed the book in Bayonne, Louisiana during the 1940's. A more specific date is not given. Placing the book during this time period allowed Gaines to include little bits of racial tension in the novel. While that kind of thing may exist today, it was much more prevalent during the 1940's and 1950's. Those dates are prior to the big push for racial equality done by men such as Martin Luther King Jr. Segregation is still very much a part of "A Lesson Before Dying." Grant is forced to enter through the back door of a white person's home, treated less well by a white sales person, and the school that Grant teaches at is sorely underfunded because it is a "colored" school. All of those inequalities were normal for the 1940's.
A Lesson Before Dying, is set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s. ... More than 75 years after the close of the Civil War, antebellum attitudes still prevail: .... that they will; I think that the book could have been titled, a lesson for us all.