Today the The New York Times released its annual roster of “100 Notable Books of 2014.” Included with just 50 fiction and poetry titles is CCLA author Jeffery Renard Allen’s SONG OF THE SHANK, first described in the Review’s pages as “Masterly. . . . The kind of imaginative work only a prodigiously gifted risk-taker could produce.” SONG OF THE SHANK (Graywolf Press) is Allen’s contemporary American masterpiece about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era.
“If there’s any justice,” suggests Kirkus, “Allen’s visionary work, as startlingly inventive as one of his subject’s performances, should propel him to the front rank of American novelists.” SONG OF THE SHANK is also among Kirkus Reviews‘ Best Books of 2014.
Read Jeff’s Buzzfeed Books essay on the musical genius of Thomas Wiggins, “Discovering Blind Tom, The Slave Turned Civil War-Era Pop Star,” here. SONG OF THE SHANK is among the Buzzfeed editors’ “24 Best Fiction Books of 2014.”
Allen’s new readers will be as pleased to learn as we are to announce that in October 2015 Graywolf Press will republish his acclaimed first novel, RAILS UNDER MY BACK, winner of the Chicago Tribune‘s Heartland Prize for Fiction. Of its first publication by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2000, The New York Times Book Review declared: “Besides Joyce and Faulkner, other 20th-century novelists whose work Allen’s calls to mind are Dos Passos, Ellison and Henry Roth—an indication of the remarkable literary company in which this novel may be seen to move.”