The African-American writer of There is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden, he is best known for novels that are set in Chicago and focus on mythology and history. His other notable works include Divine Days and The Bloodworth Orphans.
He worked for Muhammad Speaks, a Nation of Islam newspaper. Later, he joined the literature faculty at Northwestern University.
His last novel, Divine Days, was modeled after James Joyce's Ulysses.
The husband of Marianne Forrest, he was the Chicago-born son of a Catholic mother and a Baptist father.
His novel, There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden, was published with an introduction by Ralph Ellison.