News & Stories

Project Premiere: Jeffery Renard Allen's "Song of the Shank" Published by Graywolf Press

June 17, 2014

Jeffery Renard Allen's Creative Capital-supported project, the novel Song of the Shank, is published today in wide release by Graywolf Press. Over the coming months, Allen (2006 Literature) will be reading from the novel at events throughout the country, and Graywolf Press is hosting a book release party with live music by Genovis Albright on Thursday at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn (7:00pm, RSVP requested).
At the heart of Song of the Shank is Thomas Greene Wiggins, a 19th-century slave and improbable musical genius who performed under the name Blind Tom. As the novel ranges from Tom's boyhood as a sightless, probably autistic piano virtuoso to the heights of his performing career, the inscrutable savant is buffeted by opportunistic teachers and crooked managers, crackpot healers and militant prophets. In his symphonic novel, Allen blends history and fantastical invention to bring to life a radical cipher, a man who profoundly changes all who encounter him. Kirkus Reviews raves, "If there's any justice, Allen's visionary work, as startlingly inventive as one of his subject's performances, should propel him to the front rank of American novelists." 
You can read an interview with Allen and listen to recordings of Blind Tom's compositions on our blog, The Lab.
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