Novelist, poet, playwright, songwriter, essayist, activist and MacArthur genius, Ishmael Reed has been a major figure in American letters for the past four decades. His ground-breaking literary output has inspired generations of artists and writers - from Thomas Pynchon, Paul Beatty, and Colson Whitehead, to 2pac, George Clinton and David Murray - and he is widely recognized as one of the great American writers.
Reed was born in 1938. He grew up in working-class neighbourhoods in Buffalo, New York, attended Buffalo public schools, and the University of Buffalo. He taught at Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and, for thirty-five years, at the University of California Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, California, where he teaches at the California College of the Arts.
'A great writer' James Baldwin
'Part vision, part satire, part farce ... a wholly original, unholy cross between the craft of fiction and witchcraft' The New York Times
A plague is spreading across 1920s America, racing from New Orleans to New York. It's an epidemic of free expression, carried by black artists, and its symptoms are an uncontrollable urge to dance, sing, laugh and jive. The state will stop at nothing to suppress the outbreak, but, deep in the heart of Harlem, private eye and Vodum priest Papa LaBas has other ideas - and, possibly, the key to everything. A freewheeling, explosive blend of jazz, ragtime, ancient myth, magic and conspiracy thriller, this anarchic postmodern classic is a satire for our times.