‘Dirty Deceivers’ by Chester Himes

Dirty Deceivers by Chester Himes, 1948

The magic trick:

Fun ironic ending that isn’t fun at all

Imagine O. Henry dabbling in race relations and you might be close to what “Dirty Deceivers” pulls off.

It’s a plot rich in twists and irony – hence the O. Henry comparison. But if step back for even a second from the fun with coincidence, you’ll notice this is one of the cruelest, saddest stories you’ve ever read.

And that’s quite a trick on Himes’s part.

The selection:

All of his family were very fair. The most thorough examination of any sort could not have disclosed their Negro Blood. Yet in the small town in Tennessee where he was born his family were known as Negroes. This is not uncommon in the South. His family accepted their position as Negroes without obvious rancor and worked diligently to secure a comfortable living.

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