In 1920s America, a plague is spreading fast. From New Orleans to Chicago to New York, the “Jes Grew” epidemic makes people desperate to dance, overturning social norms in the process. Anyone is vulnerable and when they catch it, they’ll bump and grind into a frenzy. Working to combat the Jes Grew infection are the puritanical Atonists, a group bent on cultivating a “Talking Android,” an African American who will infiltrate the unruly black communities and help crush the outbreak. But PaPa LaBas, a houngan voodoo priest, is determined to keep his ancient culture—including a key spiritual text—alive. Spanning a dizzying host of genres, from cinema to academia to mythology, Mumbo Jumbo is a lively ride through a key decade of American history. In addition to ragtime, blues, and jazz, Reed’s allegory draws on the Harlem Renaissance, the Back to Africa movement, and America’s occupation of Haiti. His style throughout is as avant-garde and vibrant as the music at its center. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Ishmael Reed including rare images of the author.
Some parodies are as necessary as the books they answer. Such is the case with Flight to Canada, Ishmael Reed’s scathing, offbeat response to conventional anti-slavery novels such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Though Flight to Canada has been classified by some as a “post race” novel, the villains and the heroes are clear. Three slaves are on the run from the Swille plantation. Among them, the most hotly pursued is Raven Quickskill, a poet who seeks freedom in Canada, and ultimately hopes to return and liberate others. But this particular Civil War–era landscape is littered with modern elements, from Xerox copiers to airplanes, and freely reimagines historic figures as sacred as Abraham Lincoln. A comedy flashing with insight, Flight to Canada poses serious questions about history and the complex ways that race relations in America are shaped by the past. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Ishmael Reed including rare images of the author.
And so begins the HooDoo Western by Ishmael Reed, author of Mumbo Jumbo and one of America's most innovative and celebrated writers. Reed demolishes white American history and folklore as well as Christian myth in this masterful satire of contemporary American life.
In addition to the black, satanic Loop Garoo Kid, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down features Drag Gibson (a rich, slovenly cattleman), Mustache Sal (his nymphomaniac mail-order bride), Thomas Jefferson and many others in a hilarious parody of the old Western.
Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty—mountains and hills and lakes and a bay—and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, Gold Rush outpost, and home of the West’s most devious robber barons. It’s also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.
In Blues City, Ishmael Reed, one of our most brilliant essayists, takes us on a tour of Oakland, exploring its fascinating history, its beautiful hills and waterfronts, and its odd cultural juxtapositions. He takes us into a year in the life of this amazing city, to black cowboy parades and Indian powwows, to Black Panther reunions and Gay Pride concerts, to a Japanese jazz club where a Lakota musician plays Coltrane’s “Naima.” Reed provides a fascinating tour of an un-tamed, unruly western outpost set against the backdrop of political intrigues, ethnic rivalries, and a gentrification-obsessed mayor, opening our eyes not only to a singular city, but to a newly emerging America.
From the Hardcover edition.
This landmark collection features: Zora Neale Hurston, Chester Himes, Robert Coover, Bharati Mukherjee, Benjamin Franklin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ntozake Shange, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Mark Twain, Grace Paley, Russell Charles Leong, Charles Wright, James Alan McPherson, and more.