A Celebration of William Gardner Smith’s THE STONE FACE

May 3, 2021

The Whitney Humanities Center at Yale brought together—via Zoom—three cultural critics and specialists of the African American diaspora and the Algerian War to discuss the much-anticipated NYRB edition of William Gardner Smith’s The Stone Face (1963). The long out-of-print work is a classic Black expatriate novel and one of the very few contemporary works of fiction to represent the 1961 police massacre of Algerians in the streets of Paris. The main character, Simeon Brown, takes refuge from American racism in France, only to find himself complicit in a racist order of another sort; he joins Algerians in their demonstration of October 1961 and witnesses a state-sponsored massacre followed by the arrest of hundreds of peaceful, unarmed demonstrators.

Lia Brozgal, associate professor of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA, author of Absent the Archive: Cultural Traces of a Massacre in Paris (17 October 1961)
Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, author of the preface to the 2021 NYRB edition of The Stone Face
Tyler Stovall, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and professor of history at Fordham University, author of Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light
Moderated by Alice Kaplan, Sterling Professor of French and Director of the Whitney Humanities Center