(US, 1938– )
Ishmael Reed emerged in the 1960s as one of black America's sharpest satirical voices, and has won awards for his poetry and cultural criticism as well as his wilfully subversive fiction. Mumbo Jumbo (1972) is Reed's most ambitious single novel, an account of the history of Black America in the form of a bizarre journey across the continent that takes in everything from voodoo and jazz to a critique of Black Muslim thought. Flight to Canada (1976) is a witty subversion of the traditional ‘slave narrative’ set during the American Civil War, and Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (1968) is an exuberantly surreal comic Western about a travelling circus centred on ‘the Loop Garoo Kid’, a hip black gunslinger in a town where the water supply is spiked with mind-altering drugs.
Toni Morrison, Russell Banks, Caryl Phillips WB