Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

Ellison’s novel Juneteenth was only recently published in 1999, thus there is not a great deal of criticism written about the book. It has received a vast amount of praise, but also some reviews critical of the novel construction. Nonetheless, there has not been enough time for concrete reflection to develop a corpus of lengthier criticism. Richard A. King stated in Journal of American Studies that Ellison’s Juneteenth “can be read as an allegory of the history of America. Though nurtured and cared for by long-suffering blacks, white Americans have spent their lives—and the nation its history—denying that originary link of intimacy.” King is touching on what has made Ellison one of America’s most important and cherished authors. Ellison is capable of creating a story that is rich with history, entrenched with allegories and metaphors, but not hinged to oppression or evil. Ellison’s other works, most notably Invisible Man, all explore and shed light on the evils of racism, segregation and hatefulness, but they are rooted in the affirmation of blackness, not in the literal exploration of the obviously negative, incredulous evils of racism.

Yet, although this book has received much praise in terms of reviews from magazines and newspapers, the academic journals that have delved into the book note several problems with the book. Again, from Richard A. King in Journal of American Studies, “In...

(The entire section is 356 words.)