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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 211

The Conjure-Man Dies is a classic detective novel and the first of its kind written by an African American author. It portrays the complexities surrounding the Harlem Renaissance, and it addresses the fact that in the 1930s, African Americans in black communities still struggled with social constructs that hindered their cultural revolution. The book is a modernist text, as it breaks established tradition in authorship, form, and content. Not only does it capture the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance, it also compares and contrasts the spirit surrounding the movement to that of the European-American modernist movement and the reaction and response in the community to the influx of modern ideals.

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When African Americans flooded into northern cities during the Great Migration, many of the artists settled in Harlem, and Harlem quickly became the center of African American art and culture. Because art and literature are the hallmarks of culture and culture is the hallmark of a civilized nation, African Americans crossed a crucial threshold as American citizens when their art and literature rose to prominence. The story of the murder of a "conjure-man" in Harlem highlights the complexities of racial identity, which played a huge role in shaping the African American experience and the cultural revolution known as the Harlem Renaissance.

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