*Winner of The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction*

This dazzling novel, which has been hailed nationwide as a rare achievement on the level of fiction by Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright, is the communal expression of a century of African-American life in America, with its imagery of exodus and exile, departure and destiny. Wielding extraordinary literary, religious, and historical power, it is the triumphant debut of a most powerful and utterly original voice.

Originally published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, RAILS UNDER MY BACK will be republished by Graywolf Press in 2015.


Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of four other books including the novel SONG OF THE SHANK, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the short story collection HOLDING PATTERN, which received The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, 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.