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Song of the Shank
by Jeffery Renard Allen


Overview -

A contemporary American masterpiece about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era
At the heart of this remarkable novel is Thomas Greene Wiggins, a nineteenth-century slave and improbable musical genius who performed under the name Blind Tom.  Read more...


 
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More About Song of the Shank by Jeffery Renard Allen
 
 
 
Overview

A contemporary American masterpiece about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era
At the heart of this remarkable novel is Thomas Greene Wiggins, a nineteenth-century slave and improbable musical genius who performed under the name Blind Tom.
" Song of the Shank" opens in 1866 as Tom and his guardian, Eliza Bethune, struggle to adjust to their fashionable apartment in the city in the aftermath of riots that had driven them away a few years before. But soon a stranger arrives from the mysterious island of Edgemere inhabited solely by African settlers and black refugees from the war and riots who intends to reunite Tom with his now-liberated mother.
As the novel ranges from Tom's boyhood to the heights of his performing career, the inscrutable savant is buffeted by opportunistic teachers and crooked managers, crackpot healers and militant prophets. In his symphonic novel, Jeffery Renard Allen blends history and fantastical invention to bring to life a radical cipher, a man who profoundly changes all who encounter him."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781555976804
  • ISBN-10: 1555976808
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publish Date: June 2014
  • Page Count: 570
  • Dimensions: 9.08 x 6.02 x 1.22 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.71 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > African American - Historical
Books > Fiction > Literary

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-04-07
  • Reviewer: Staff

Allen (Rails Under My Back) spent nearly a decade researching and crafting this ambitious but unwieldy novel, based on the true story of “Blind Tom,” né Tom Wiggins, who was born a slave in mid-19th-century Georgia. In this retelling, Allen looks to illuminate Tom’s troubled legacy. A blind musical prodigy and so-called autistic savant, Tom played the piano for audiences around the world and was, as a child, the first black American to perform at the White House. “He infuses our best melodies and harmonies with a barbaric element,” Tom’s master claims. Both the conception and the underlying history behind this story will leave readers with a profound understanding of the inhumanity of slavery and 19th century racial attitudes. This is a dense and admirable book that invites an important excavation of the past, yet ultimately provides neither intimacy nor perspective. Agent: Cynthia Cannell, Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency. (June)

 
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