Not Without Laughter

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Not Without Laughter
Not Without Laughter cover
Author Langston Hughes
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Random House
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-394-43873-6 (hardback edition)

Not Without Laughter is a novel written by Langston Hughes and published in 1930. It is Hughes' first novel, and first major work of prose.

Plot introduction[edit]

Not Without Laughter portrays African-American life in the 1910s, focusing on character development rather than plot. However, the main storyline focuses on Sandy's "awakening to the sad and the beautiful realities of black life in a small Kansas town." The major intent of the novel is to portray Sandy's life as he tries to be the best he can be, aspiring to folks such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.


  • Sandy Rogers – the main protagonist
  • Jimboy – Sandy's father, generally portrayed as irresponsible
  • Annjee Williams – Sandy's mother
  • Aunt Hager Williams – Annjee's mother and Sandy's grandmother, a conservative Baptist
  • Tempy Siles/Williams – Annjee's rich sister
  • Mr. Siles – a rich man who marries Tempy
  • Harriett Williams – sister of Annjee; blues singer
  • Willie-Mae – friend of Sandy


Hughes said that Not Without Laughter is semi-autobiographical, and that a good portion of the characters and setting included in the novel are based on his memories of growing up in Lawrence, Kansas: "I wanted to write about a typical Negro family in the Middle West, about people like those I had known in Kansas. But mine was not a typical Negro family."