Like Nobel winner William Faulkner, Gaines has created profound universal literature from stories found in his small home territory.
Gaines' novels such as "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," "A Gathering of Old Men" and "A Lesson Before Dying" have received international recognition for their vision of humanity. His fictionalized black community based on his home in rural Pointe Coupee Parish, La., will last for future generations of readers.
Writer Wiley Cash, who studied under Gaines at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, wrote a warm profile of Gaines published in the current issue of Garden & Gun magazine. Gaines, whom I met at the Sewanee Writers' Conference, is a warm, genial and humorous man who shows no bitterness at his oppressive Louisiana childhood. His characters and stories capture the endurance, wisdom and love of those who overcame slavery's legacy
It's a shame that Gaines is not mentioned among possible Nobel winners. The leading candidate for this year's prize, which will be announced Thursday, is Kenya's Ngugi wa Thiong'o, with Japan's Haruki Murakami second. The oddsmakers also list Canada's Margaret Atwood, Spain's Javier Marias, Korea's Ko Un and Albania's Ismail Kadare, among others.
The Nobel committee apparently wants to avoid naming a songwriter/musician like last year's winner, Bob Dylan, criticized by bookish types as insufficiently "literary." Bruce Springsteen did write a praised memoir during the year, but will have to be satisfied with a Broadway show. Barry Manilow can forget it.