Ishmael Reed - book author
Ishmael Scott Reed is an American poet, essayist, and novelist. A prominent African-American literary figure, Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.
Reed has been described as one of the most controversial writers. While his work has often sought to represent neglected African and African-American perspectives, his energy and advocacy have centered more broadly on neglected peoples and perspectives irrespective of their cultural origins.
Ishmael Reed is the author of books: Mumbo Jumbo, Flight to Canada, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, The Free-Lance Pallbearers, Japanese by Spring, The Last Days of Louisiana Red, Terrible Twos, Reckless Eyeballing, From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across America, Blues City: A Walk in Oakland
Mumbo Jumbo is Ishmael Reed's brilliantly satiric deconstruction of Western civilization, a racy and uproarious commentary on our society. In it, Reed, one of our preeminent African-American authors, mixes portraits of historical figures and fictional characters with sound bites on subjects ranging from ragtime to Greek philosophy. Cited by literary critic Harold Bloom as one of the five hundred most significant books in the Western canon, Mumbo Jumbo is a trenchant and often biting look at black-white relations throughout history, from a keen observer of our culture.
With his myth-bending ingenuity, Reed merges history, fantasy, political reality, and high comedy as he parodies the fugitive slave narrative: the slave-poet Quickskill flees to Canada on a nonstop jumbo jet; Abe Lincoln waltzes through slave quarters to the tune of "Hello Dolly"; the plantation mistress lies in bed watching the Beecher Hour on TV. Flight to Canada's preposterous episodes leap out from the pages of history to reveal a keen sense of America past and present.
"For all the talk of the black aesthetic, few black novelists have broken sharply with the traditional devices of the realistic novel. One writer who departs from such conventions, however, is Ishmael Reed. . . . The Free-Lance Pallbearers uses an explosive combination of straightforward English prose, exaggerated black dialect, hip jargon, advertising slogans and long, howling uppercase screams."â€”NewsweekIshmael Reed's electrifying first novel zooms readers off to the crazy, ominous kingdom of HARRY SAMâ€”a miserable and dangerous place ruled for thirty years by Harry Sam, a former used car salesman who wields his power from his bathroom throne. In a land of a thousand contradictions peopled by cops and beatniks, black nationalists and white liberals, the crusading Bukka Doopeyduk leads a rebellion against the corrupt Sam in a wildly uproarious and scathing satire, earning the author the right to be dubbed "the brightest contributor to American satire since Mark Twain" (The Nation).
"One of the funniest satires of university politics I've ever read. Ishmael Reed is funnier than Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal." —Leslie Marmon Silko
"Reed is, as always, an American original; a wiseguy whose wisdom is the real thing," —The Boston Sunday Globe
A HooDoo detective story and a comprehensive satire on the explosive politics of the '60s, The Last Days of Louisiana Red exposes the hypocrisy of contemporary American culture and race politics.
In this hilarious, devastating, but also deeply sympathetic novel, Ishmael Reed turns characters on the backs, sides, tops and bottoms to expose the multiple hypocrisies at the heart of American culture.
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.