In a small Cajun community in the late 1940s, a young black man named Jefferson is an unwitting party to a liquor store shootout in which three men are killed. The only survivor, he is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Gaines explores the deep prejudice of the American South in the tradition of Harper Lee s To Kill A Mockingbird and Toni Morrison s Beloved. A Lesson Before Dying is a richly compassionate and deeply moving vel, the story of a young black man sentenced to death for a murder he did t commit, and a teacher who seeks to share his wisdom before the execution.
Ernest J. Gaines was born on a plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, which is the Bayonne of all his fictional works. His novels include The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Of Love and Dust, Catherine Carmier, Bloodline, A Gathering of Old Men and In My Father's House.