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v2.1 Reference

The Seeking

Novelist Will Thomas had been a logger in Maine, a crew member on a fishing boat in Alaska, a prizefighter on the West Coast, a scriptwriter in Los Angeles, and a journalist in Kansas City, Chicago, and New York. In 1946 he, his wife, and three children abandoned a plan to move to Haiti to escape racial prejudice in the United States. Instead, they made the improbable decision to purchase a home in tiny Westford, Vermont, twenty miles northeast of Burlington. At the time, the Thomases were the only non-white members of the community. The Seeking is the grim account of the Thomases’ lives before Vermont, their decision to give living in America one last chance, and the moving, heartfelt, uplifting story of their time among the people of Westford—a life, writes Thomas, “not based on race, but on what we and they [were] like as human beings.”Back in print for the first time in fifty years, this edition includes a new introduction that situates The Seeking in the canon of twentieth-century black literature, and a new afterword that follows the fortunes of Thomas and his family in the years after its initial publication. With appearances by the author’s notable friends, including the novelist Chester Himes and sociologist Horace Cayton, Jr., The Seeking is both a story of one remarkable African-American family and a story of New England race relations in the first half of the twentieth century.

About the Authors

WILL THOMAS (pseudonym of William Smith, 1900–1970) was the author of the novel God Is for White Folks, published in 1947. MARK J. MADIGAN (introduction) is professor of English at Nazareth College. DAN GEDIMAN (afterword) is executive director of This I Believe, Inc.


“The careful calibration of [Thomas’s] thoughts and emotions is the book’s great strength. We feel the internal divisions, the constant, sometimes unbearable tension between the outer man, who battles living a life circumscribed by race, and the inner man, who dreams of what life could be.”—Valley News


"This African American memoir of rejecting expatriation and exile in favor of the persistent struggle against racism at home is an important, relevant, and fascinating recovery for contemporary Cold War discourse." —Thadious Davis, University of Pennsylvania

"This meticulously edited autobiography is a gift. Will Thomas's struggles with racial segregation vividly demonstrate how race is both culturally constructed and inescapable. This story of thwarted individualism should interest anyone concerned with our nation's racial history." —Carla Kaplan, Northeastern University

"A 'must read'."

—Melba Joyce Boyd, Wayne State University

"Honest, straightforward, and engaging." —David Budbill, poet and playwright

9781555538279 : the-seeking-thomas-fisher-madigan
Paperback / softback
336 Pages
$19.95 USD

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