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The Library of America

Many Thousand Gone: An American Fable

Many Thousand Gone: An American Fable

The premise of Ronald Fair's short, parable-like novel, Many Thousand Gone: An American Fable (1965), is that in a rural corner of Mississippi - the fictional Jacobs County - slavery did not end in 1865 but continued uninterrupted into the 1960s through the brutal tactics of the local sheriff's office and the willing complicity of surrounding counties. Black outsiders are not allowed into Jacobs County while Black inhabitants attempting to escape are hunted down and killed. All the Black women in the county have been made sexually available to any white man for generations, resulting in the mixed blood of nearly all the enslaved population. When the last all-Black child, 'the Black Prince,' is born, he is secreted out of the county by his great-grandmother and a family friend, and eventually makes his way north to join his father. Years later, when the Black Prince becomes a celebrated writer in Chicago, his growing fame puts an unwante

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