The New York Times Book Review’s “Match Book” column gives readers enlightened recommendations for what book to seek out next. This week, Jeffery Renard Allen’s SONG OF THE SHANK was just the thing for a reader looking for “black authors who can both get me excited about reading again and inspire my own writing.”

Critic Nicole Lamy offered sage advice: “Your affection for the layered literary style and atmospheric pleasures of “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” led me to Jeffery Renard Allen’s “Song of the Shank.” The sprawling, fictionalized Civil War-era account of the life of Thomas Greene Wiggins, a blind savant pianist born into slavery and exploited by a string of characters, doesn’t fit neatly into any one speculative genre. But fantastic ripples — an enigmatic, utopian island and mythical “ornate sea creatures” — break the narrative surface so that the prose’s lyrical pulse builds to one long, unbroken spell.”

For more on Jeffery Renard Allen, you can visit his site.