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Ishmael Reed

(b. 1938)

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Chattanooga-born black author, long resident in Berkeley, Cal. His experimental novels of preposterous plots marked by fantasy, sometimes surrealistic, sometimes caricatured and satiric, include The Free-Lance Pallbearers (1967), depicting violence and corruption in a fictive land; Yellow Back Radio Broke Down (1969), presenting the fantastic adventures of a black cowboy; Mumbo Jumbo (1972), a freewheeling tale about black-white relations over the ages; The Last Days of Louisiana Red (1974), a bizarre tale of blacks and whites set in Berkeley during the 1960s; and Flight to Canada (1976), fusing 19th- and 20th-century characters and situations in a surrealistic presentation of American slavery. The Terrible Twos (1982) is a bitter, satirical fantasy of political and social corruption in the U.S. of today and the future. His poetry is collected in Catechism of the Neo-American HooDoo Church (1970), Conjure (1972), Chattanooga (1973), and Secretary to the Spirits (1978). Shrovetide in Old New Orleans (1978) and God Made Alaska for the Indians (1982) contain brief prose pieces.

Subjects: Literature

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