ETHIOPIAN STORIES by George Schuyler (Northeastern University Press, 1994)
One of the things you notice about the pulp era (1928-45) of American fiction is the lack of Black writers or characters. What few characters of color in pulp fiction tend to be embarrassingly racial stereotypes, with few notable exceptions. Even The Avenger’s Black aids were noted as being honors graduates from a historically Black college (as if to reassure the White audience). I can’t help but speculate if Black pulp magazines did exist and just never survived the paper drives of WW2.
The only Black American pulp writer I can locate is George Schyler (1895-1977), who wrote several novels satirizing race relations in the US. 20 years ago, Northeastern University Press began reissuing his books. Black Empire (1936), which he published anonymously in the Pittsburgh Courier. I once checked the book out of a library, but never had the chance to finish it.
Ethiopian Stories consists of two novellas: The Ethiopian Murder Mystery and Revolt in Ethiopia. Both were published in Black American newspapers in the 1930’s. Ethiopia, an ancient Christian empire which dated back to the Roman era, was invaded by Italian Fascists in 1935. The plight of the Ethiopian people was constantly in the news at the time.
The Ethiopian Murder Mystery takes place in New York City. Harlem to be specific. A suspicious murder is tied to Italian secret agents and Ethiopians in exile. Revolt in Ethiopia has rich Black American Dick Welland and his valet becoming mixed up in the liberation of occupied Ethiopia. The first story is a standard murder mystery. The second is more of an adventure story.
I wonder if regional Black American publications might hold other treasures waiting to be found.