Song of the Shank (Jeffery Renard Allen)

Article by keaton

Once in a great while a novel comes along that simultaneously sheds new light on how we view our past and upends every preconceived notion of what is stylistically possible in a work of fiction--THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, ULYSSES, INVISIBLE MAN, and ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE are but a few examples.

And now there is Jeffery Renard Allen’s SONG OF THE SHANK. This astonishing novel is based on the all-but-forgotten life of “Blind” Tom Wiggins, a blind autistic musical savant and African American slave, whose virtuosic piano playing makes him an international sensation and the first person of color to perform at the White House. However, Tom’s notoriety leads to his exploitation during the turbulent years surrounding the Civil War, and, when the chance to reunite with his newly liberated mother arises, his life is further complicated in unforeseeable ways.

Allen deftly imagines these experiences, moving back and forth in time from Tom’s childhood as a musical oddity and celebrity, to his later years trying to escape from the limelight and find where he truly belongs, filling in the historical blank spots in his life with dense yet engaging prose that will thoroughly immerse you in the story. SONG OF THE SHANK is quite simply amazing. It’s a rare literary treat that will not leave you unchanged. So read it now! Come awards season, everyone will be talking about SONG OF THE SHANK.

Song of the Shank: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976804
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Graywolf Press - June 17th, 2014

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