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The Walls of Jericho is the first novel by Rudolph Fisher, whom Langston Hughes called "the wittiest of these New Negroes of Harlem, whose tongue was flavored with the sharpest and saltiest humor." Originally published in 1928, The Walls of Jericho portrays "Negro" society in New York City during the 1920s.
Lawyer Ralph Merritt buys a house in a white neighborhood bordering Harlem. In their reactions to Merrit and to one another, Fisher's characters—including the prejudiced Miss Cramp, who "takes on causes the way sticky tape picks up lint," Merrit's housekeeper Linda, and Shine, his piano mover—provide an invaluable view of the social and philosophical milieu of the times.
Thematically, Fisher focuses on the idea of black unity and the discovery of the self. The biblical tale of Joshua is evoked to illustrate his concern for the black person's search for a "true nature." it is in this spiritual battle that the divergent segments of Harlem are drawn together in order to battle the "establishment" inside the walls of Jericho.
"The Walls of Jericho, besides being a fun read, should reopen our eyes to what the Harlem Renaissance was all about. It was more than just a good time."
—Quarterly Black Review
". . . deserves an audience wider than the classroom—both because it is a good story and because it reminds us how far we have come, and how far we have not, on matters of race and class."
—Black Issues in Higher Education
An Introduction to Contemporary Harlemese 295