Ehle, John (1958) Move Over, Mountain. 1st UK edition, First novel


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Ehle, John. Move Over, Mountain. (Hodder and Stoughton: London, 1958)

First UK edition of this inductee to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame’s first novel.

Small Octavo. 315 pages plus one page adv.

Condition: Very Good in a vg dust jacket, DJ covered in Mylar cover. Shadow of DJ on free endpapers. Light soiling to dj. Binding tight.

“When first published in 1957, “Move Over, Mountain” was considered to be the first book written by a white novelist that portrayed African-Americans without stereotype. It received positive reviews from several major publications, but was shunned by segregated bookstores and libraries. There was only one US printing of “Move Over, Mountain.” The following year it was published by Hodder and Stoughton of London, England. A story of personal and social struggle, the New York Times said of John Ehle in 1957, “It is quite obvious that he writes from a deep knowledge of his subject, and an understanding of technique rare in a first novelist.”” – Google Books

“A rather unusual story of Negroes in their own community, struggling to win a place for themselves, a chance to get ahead, an opportunity for their families to feel secure. There’s a poignant — almost a desperate- quality to the writing, and one feels an impending sense of unavoidable tragedy, as Jordan Cummings, a huge, quick-tempered Negro storms his way from job to job. As the story opens, he has lost his latest job at the coal yard because he talked back to a customer; trying to recoup, he gambles and loses hard-earned savings — and when he goes home, Annie, the wife he truly loves, charges him with being no good. One lives with the Cummings in the weeks that follow; he swallows his pride and goes to apologize to Mona, the woman he insulted- only to fall victim to her half crazed need for a man — and his resultant sense of shame and betrayal of Annie and their boys. Then back comes his younger brother Bryant, whom he and his father had sent North, Bryant, prosperous and ruthless and much too clever for the Negroes back home in North Carolina. Bryant tricks Jordan- and later Jordan’s friend, Jake, out of each thing they build for themselves,- the beginning of a taxi service, the operation of a Negro district bar. And Bryant betrays Jordan’s relations with Mona to Annie. The story revolves around the conflict between the brothers- and slowly Jordan conquers his own violent bursts of temper, his own jealousy and rebellion, and finally wins not only a going business, but the wisdom to make a choice between holding the place he has won at home- or taking off for the mirage of prosperity in Harlem. It is a very human story, compassionate, perceptive. John Ehle seems to know his characters, though he is not himself a Negro.” – Kirkus Reviews (1957)