Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency
A full-service literary agency in New York City



Graywolf Press, 2020

Graywolf Press, 2020


"[A] masterly new novel...It sagely explores themes of religion, class, art and genius, and introduces elements of magic realism...resulting in the kind of imaginative work only a prodigiously gifted risk-taker could produce."

— New York Times Book Review on SONG OF THE SHANK

FAT TIME is the powerful new collection from PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Jeffery Renard Allen. Encompassing ten short stories, the collection is loosely linked around African notions of time and place, along with African views of space, cosmology, and metaphysics. The stories are set in invented locations in both Africa and America and play out over a continuum of time. A deeper linkage emerges in the form of a shadow narrative about, on the one hand, destruction in the specific form of violence to the Black body, and on the other, creation and making, namely through the idioms of music and painting.

Allen daringly weaves in elements of both historical fact and the fantastic throughout FAT TIME. “Paraphernalia” relays the surprising results when the daughter of a religious leader convinces the world heavyweight boxing champions to host her sixteenth birthday party at his home. Familiar figures come into focus throughout too: in the title story “Fat Time” (previously published on, Allen riffs on the boxer Jack Johnson, while Jimi Hendrix and Francis Bacon play central roles in “Heads” (previously published in the Oxford American). Taken together, these ten stories represent a contemporary master at the top of his craft.

Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of five books including the novels SONG OF THE SHANK and RAILS UNDER MY BACK, which won the Chicago Tribune‘s Heartland Prize for Fiction; 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.