Michael Thelwell

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Darryl Pinckney

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[In "The Harder They Come"] Mr. Thelwell is most convincing when depicting daily life (the market, a bus ride, gang rivalry at the movies); much of this depends on the richness of his characters' language—the rolling, resonant, hypnotic patois. This is the extraordinary feature of an otherwise extremely conventional work; the action is predictable and most of the characters are stock types. Mr. Thelwell is more interested in the mythic qualities of his hero, and he has succumbed to a temptation that is widespread in the portrayal of third-world men in fiction and on film: the super stud, as if every black hero, in order to be authentic, had to possess total sexual confidence, even before puberty. It is a weird compensation for powerlessness. (p. 35)

Darryl Pinchpenny, "Seductive Setting," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1980 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), June 1, 1980, pp. 15, 35.∗

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