The world of Jeffery Renard Allen’s stunning short story collection, HOLDING PATTERN, is a recognizable city (Chicago), but one in which a young man, jailed for jumping a subway turnstile, might sprout wings, or copper pennies might rain from the skies. Yet these are no fairy tales – Allen’s sensitivity to the realities of African American life is assuredly contemporary. Dazzlingly written, astonishingly inventive and unfailingly entertaining, HOLDING PATTERN is a break-out collection.

In all the stories, Allen calibrates mounting tension with exquisite timing in mesmerizing prose that has won him comparisons with Joyce and Faulkner and The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence.


Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of five books including the novels SONG OF THE SHANK, which was a finalist for the PEN / Faulkner Award, and RAILS UNDER MY BACK, which won the Chicago Tribune‘s Heartland Prize for Fiction; the short story collection Holding Pattern; and two collections of poetry. A Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, Allen is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a grant in Innovative Literature from the Creative Capital Foundation, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.