Books: Root and Branch

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN by Ernest J. Games. 245 pages. Dial. $6.95.

Ernest J. Gaines has not received anything like the attention he deserves, for he may just be the best black writer in America. He is so good, in fact, that he makes the category seem meaningless, though one of his principal subjects has been slavery—past and present.

Born on a Louisiana plantation 38 years ago, Gaines is first and last a country-boy writer. He sets down a story as if he were planting, spreading the roots deep, wide and firm. His stories grow organically, at their own rhythm. When...

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