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Found 36 Books Published by Graywolf Press — Book Cover Mosaic

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Click for more detail about American Sublime: Poems by Elizabeth Alexander American Sublime: Poems

by Elizabeth Alexander
Graywolf Press (Oct 01, 2005)
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A brilliant new collection by Elizabeth Alexander, whose "poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh" (Rita Dove, The Washington Post)
Too many people have seen too much

and lived to tell, or not tell, or tell

with their silent, patterned bodies,

their glass eyes, gone legs, flower-printed flesh . . .

-from "Notes From"
In her fourth remarkable collection, Elizabeth Alexander voices the outcries, dreams, and histories of an African American tradition that goes back to the slave rebellion on the Amistad and to the artists’ canvases of nineteenth-century America. In persona poems, historical narratives, jazz riffs, sonnets, elegies, and a sequence of ars poetica, American Sublime is Alexander’s most vivid and varied collection and affirms her place as one of America’s most lively and gifted writers.
"Alexander is an unusual thing, a sensualist of history, a romanticist of race. She weaves biography, history, experience, pop culture and dream. Her poems make the public and private dance together." —Chicago Tribune


Click for more detail about Antebellum Dream Book by Elizabeth Alexander Antebellum Dream Book

by Elizabeth Alexander
Graywolf Press (Sep 01, 2001)
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In surprising turns through different American cities, mindsets, and eras, and through the strange rhythms of dreaming, the celebrated poet Elizabeth Alexander composes her own kind of improvisational jazz. Antebellum Dream Book offers a music of resistances as well as soaring flights of fancy: the conflicts of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and after; a mother’s struggle to see through a postpartum fog; a vision in which the poet takes on the narrative voice of Muhammad Ali. The New York Times Book Review has said that "Alexander creates intellectual magic in poem after poem." In this stunning collection, she furthers her reputation as a vital and vivid poetic voice keenly attuned to our ideas of race, gender, politics, and motherhood.


Click for more detail about Assumption: A Novel by Percival Everett Assumption: A Novel

by Percival Everett
Graywolf Press (Oct 25, 2011)
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A baffling triptych of murder mysteries by the author of I Am Not Sidney Poitier

Ogden Walker, deputy sheriff of a small New Mexico town, is on the trail of an old woman’s murderer. But at the crime scene, his are the only footprints leading up to and away from her door. Something is amiss, and even his mother knows it. As other cases pile up, Ogden gives chase, pursuing flimsy leads for even flimsier reasons. His hunt leads him from the seamier side of Denver to a hippie commune as he seeks the puzzling solution. In Assumption, his follow-up to the wickedly funny I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Percival Everett is in top form as he once again upends our expectations about characters, plot, race, and meaning. A wild ride to the heart of a baffling mystery, Assumption is a literary thriller like no other.


Click for more detail about Bellocq’s Ophelia: Poems by Natasha Trethewey Bellocq’s Ophelia: Poems

by Natasha Trethewey
Graywolf Press (Apr 01, 2002)
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Selected as a "2003 Notable Book" by the American Library Association
In the early 1900s, E.J. Bellocq photographed prostitutes in the red-light district of New Orleans. His remarkable, candid photos inspired Natasha Trethewey to imagine the life of Ophelia, the subject of Bellocq’s Ophelia, her stunning second collection of poems. With elegant precision, Ophelia tells of her life on display: her white father whose approval she earns by standing very still; the brothel Madame who tells her to act like a statue while the gentlemen callers choose; and finally the camera, which not only captures her body, but also offers a glimpse into her soul.


Click for more detail about Blackass: A Novel by A. Igoni Barrett Blackass: A Novel

by A. Igoni Barrett
Graywolf Press (Mar 01, 2016)
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Furo Wariboko, a young Nigerian, awakes the morning before a job interview to find that he’s been transformed into a white man. In this condition he plunges into the bustle of Lagos to make his fortune. With his red hair, green eyes, and pale skin, it seems he’s been completely changed. Well, almost. There is the matter of his family, his accent, his name. Oh, and his black ass. Furo must quickly learn to navigate a world made unfamiliar and deal with those who would use him for their own purposes. Taken in by a young woman called Syreeta and pursued by a writer named Igoni, Furo lands his first-ever job, adopts a new name, and soon finds himself evolving in unanticipated ways.A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass is a fierce comic satire that touches on everything from race to social media while at the same time questioning the values society places on us simply by virtue of the way we look. As he did in Love Is Power, or Something Like That, Barrett brilliantly depicts life in contemporary Nigeria and details the double-dealing and code-switching that are implicit in everyday business. But it’s Furo’s search for an identity—one deeper than skin—that leads to the final unraveling of his own carefully constructed story.


Click for more detail about Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News

by Kevin Young
Graywolf Press (Nov 14, 2017)
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Has the hoax now moved from the sideshow to take the center stage of American culture?Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young tours us through a rogue’s gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers?from the humbug of P. T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe to the unrepentant bunk of JT LeRoy and Donald J. Trump. Bunk traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon, examining what motivates hucksters and makes the rest of us so gullible. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, race being the most insidious American hoax of all. He chronicles how Barnum came to fame by displaying figures like Joice Heth, a black woman whom he pretended was the 161-year-old nursemaid to George Washington, and What Is It?, an African American man Barnum professed was a newly discovered missing link in evolution.

Bunk then turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and journalistic fakers invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time, from pretend Native Americans Grey Owl and Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal. In this brilliant and timely work, Young asks what it means to live in a post-factual world of “truthiness” where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a pervasive cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.


Click for more detail about Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine Citizen: An American Lyric

by Claudia Rankine
Graywolf Press (Oct 07, 2014)
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* Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry *
* Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism * Winner of the NAACP Image Award * Winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize * Winner of the PEN Open Book Award *

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, NPR. Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Slate, Time Out New York, Vulture, Refinery 29, and many more . . .

A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine’s long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.


Click for more detail about Close Sesame: A Novel (Variations On The Theme Of An African Dictatorship) by Nuruddin Farah Close Sesame: A Novel (Variations On The Theme Of An African Dictatorship)

by Nuruddin Farah
Graywolf Press (Aug 22, 2006)
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Farah’s landmarkVariations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy is comprised by the novels Sweet and Sour Milk, Sardines, and Close Sesame. In this volume, the third and final book in the series, the characters are deeply entwined in the waking nightmare of a police state. An old man finds himself poised in mortal combat with an elusive and cunning enemy in an atmosphere where the distinction between public and private justice is always obscured.

Close Sesame is a novel that offers "an eloquent indictment of the tyrannies committed both under Islamic law and in the name of Socialism" (The Observer).


Click for more detail about Coin Of The Realm: Essays On The Life And Art Of Poetry by Carl Phillips Coin Of The Realm: Essays On The Life And Art Of Poetry

by Carl Phillips
Graywolf Press (Jun 01, 2004)
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The Award-winning poet Carl Phillips grapples with issues of authority, identity, and beauty in these sensual and deeply intelligent essays
The "coin of the realm" is, classically, the currency that for any culture most holds value. In art, as in life, the poet Carl Phillips argues, that currency includes beauty, risk, and authority-values of meaning and complexity that all too often go disregarded. Together, these essays become an invaluable statement for the necessary-and necessarily difficult-work of the imagination and the will, even when, as Phillips states in his title essay, "the last thing that most human beings seem capable of trusting naturally-instinctively-is themselves, their own judgment."


Click for more detail about CortGe: Poems by Carl Phillips CortGe: Poems

by Carl Phillips
Graywolf Press (Mar 25, 2002)
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poetry by author of IN THE BLOOD


Click for more detail about Crave Radiance: New And Selected Poems 1990-2010 by Elizabeth Alexander Crave Radiance: New And Selected Poems 1990-2010

by Elizabeth Alexander
Graywolf Press (Sep 28, 2010)
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The first career retrospective by the award-winning poet Elizabeth Alexander, including her poem delivered at Barack Obama’s presidential inaugurationWe crave radiance in this austere world,
light in the spiritual darkness.
Learning is the one perfect religion,
its path correct, narrow, certain, straight.
—from "Allegiance"


Over twenty years, Elizabeth Alexander has become one of America’s most exciting and important poets, and her selection as the inaugural poet by President Obama confirmed her place as one of the indispensable voices of our time. Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 gathers twenty pages of new poetry, along with generous selections from her previous work. The result is the definitive volume to date by this American master.


Click for more detail about Damned If I Do: Stories by Percival Everett Damned If I Do: Stories

by Percival Everett
Graywolf Press (Nov 01, 2004)
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Damned If I Do is an exceptional new collection of short stories by Percival Everett, author of the highly praised and wickedly funny novel ErasurePeople are just naturally hopeful, a term my grandfather used to tell me was more than occasionally interchangeable with stupid.A cop, a cowboy, several fly fishermen, and a reluctant romance novelist inhabit these revealing and often hilarious stories. An old man ends up in a high-speed car chase with the cops after stealing the car that blocks the garbage bin at his apartment building. A stranger gets a job at a sandwich shop and fixes everything in sight: a manual mustard dispenser, a mouthful of crooked teeth, thirty-two parking tickets, and a sexual-identity problem.Percival Everett is a master storyteller who ingeniously addresses issues of race and prejudice by simultaneously satirizing and celebrating the human condition.


Click for more detail about Domestic Work: Poems by Natasha Trethewey Domestic Work: Poems

by Natasha Trethewey
Graywolf Press (Aug 01, 2000)
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In this debut collection, Natasha Trethewey draws moving domestic portraits of families, past and present, caught in the act of earning a living and managing their households. Small moments taken from a labor-filled day reveal the equally hard emotional work of memory and forgetting, the extraordinary difficulty of trying to live with or without someone.


Click for more detail about Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

by Danez Smith
Graywolf Press (Sep 05, 2017)
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The highly anticipated second collection by Danez Smith?“Hallelujah is an understatement” (Patricia Smith)Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality?the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood?and a diagnosis of HIV positive. “Some of us are killed / in pieces,” Smith writes, “some of us all at once.” Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America?“Dear White America”?where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.


Click for more detail about Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

by Claudia Rankine
Graywolf Press (Sep 01, 2004)
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In this powerful sequence of TV images and essay, Claudia Rankine explores the personal and political unrest of our volatile new century
I forget things too. It makes me sad. Or it makes

me the saddest. The sadness is not really about

George W. or our American optimism; the

sadness lives in the recognition that a life can

not matter.
The award-winning poet Claudia Rankine, well known for her experimental multigenre writing, fuses the lyric, the essay, and the visual in this politically and morally fierce examination of solitude in the rapacious and media-driven assault on selfhood that is contemporary America. With wit and intelligence, Rankine strives toward an unprecedented clarity-of thought, imagination, and sentence-making-while arguing that recognition of others is the only salvation for ourselves, our art, and our government.
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely is an important new confrontation with our culture, with a voice at its heart bewildered by its inadequacy in the face of race riots, terrorist attacks, medicated depression, and the antagonism of the television that won’t leave us alone.


Click for more detail about Duende: Poems by Tracy K. Smith Duende: Poems

by Tracy K. Smith
Graywolf Press (May 29, 2007)
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Winner 2008 Essence Literary Award for Poetry (AALBC.com was on the selection committee)

Every poem is the story of itself.

Pure conflict. Its own undoing.

Breeze of dreams, then certain death.

—from "History"

Duende, that dark and elusive force described by Federico Garca Lorca, is the creative and ecstatic power an artist seeks to channel from within. It can lead the artist toward revelation, but it must also, Lorca says, accept and even serenade the possibility of death. Tracy K. Smith’s bold second poetry collection explores history and the intersections of folk traditions, political resistance, and personal survival. Duende gives passionate testament to suppressed cultures, and allows them to sing.


Click for more detail about From The Devotions: Poems by Carl Phillips From The Devotions: Poems

by Carl Phillips
Graywolf Press (Mar 02, 2002)
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With From the Devotions, Carl Phillips takes us even further into that dangerous space he has already made his own, where body and soul—ever restless—come explosively together. Speaking to a balance between decorum and pain, he offers here a devotional poetry that argues for faith, even without the comforting gods or the organized structures of revealed truth. Neither sage nor saint nor prophet, the poet is the listener, the mourner, the one who has some access to the maddening quarters of human consciousness, the wry Sibyl. From the Devotions is deeply felt, highly intelligent, and unsentimental, and cements Phillips’s reputation as a poet of enormous talent and depth.


Click for more detail about Half an Inch of Water: Stories by Percival Everett Half an Inch of Water: Stories

by Percival Everett
Graywolf Press (Sep 15, 2015)
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A new collection of stories set in the West from "one of the most gifted and versatile of contemporary writers" (NPR)Percival Everett’s long-awaited new collection of stories, his first since 2004’s Damned If I Do, finds him traversing the West with characteristic restlessness. A deaf Native American girl wanders off into the desert and is found untouched in a den of rattlesnakes. A young boy copes with the death of his sister by angling for an unnaturally large trout in the creek where she drowned. An old woman rides her horse into a mountain snowstorm and sees a long-dead beloved dog. For the plainspoken men and women of these stories?fathers and daughters, sheriffs and veterinarians?small events trigger sudden shifts in which the ordinary becomes unfamiliar. A harmless comment about how to ride a horse changes the course of a relationship, a snakebite gives rise to hallucinations, and the hunt for a missing man reveals his uncanny resemblance to an actor. Half an Inch of Water tears through the fabric of the everyday to examine what lies beneath the surface of these lives. In the hands of master storyteller Everett, the act of questioning leads to vistas more strange and unsettling than could ever have been expected.


Click for more detail about Holding Pattern: Stories by Jeffery Renard Allen Holding Pattern: Stories

by Jeffery Renard Allen
Graywolf Press (Sep 02, 2008)
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The world of Jeffery Renard Allen’s stunning short-story collection is a place like no other. A recognizable city, certainly, but one in which a man might sprout wings or copper pennies might fall from the skies onto your head. Yet these are no fairy tales. The hostility, the hurt, is all too human.

The protagonists circle each other with steely determination: a grandson taunts his grandmother, determined to expose her secret past; for years, a sister tries to keep a menacing neighbor away from her brother; and in the local police station, an officer and prisoner try to break each other's resolve.

In all the stories, Allen calibrates the mounting tension with exquisite timing, in mesmerizing prose that has won him comparisons with Joyce and Faulkner. Holding Pattern is a captivating collection by a prodigiously talented writer.


Click for more detail about How To Escape From A Leper Colony: A Novella And Stories by Tiphanie Yanique How To Escape From A Leper Colony: A Novella And Stories

by Tiphanie Yanique
Graywolf Press (Mar 02, 2010)
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An enthralling debut collection from a singular Caribbean voice

For a leper, many things are impossible, and many other things are easily done. Babalao Chuck said he could fly to the other side of the island and peek at the nuns bathing. And when a man with no hands claims that he can fly, you listen. The inhabitants of an island walk into the sea. A man passes a jail cell’s window, shouldering a wooden cross. And in the international shop of coffins, a story repeats itself, pointing toward an inevitable tragedy. If the facts of these stories are sometimes fantastical, the situations they describe are complex and all too real.

Lyrical, lush, and haunting, the prose shimmers in this nuanced debut, set mostly in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Part oral history, part postcolonial narrative, How to Escape from a Leper Colony is ultimately a loving portrait of a wholly unique place. Like Gabriel Garca Mrquez, Edwidge Danticat, and Maryse Cond before her, Tiphanie Yanique has crafted a book that is heartbreaking, hilarious, magical, and mesmerizing. An unforgettable collection.


Click for more detail about I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel by Percival Everett I Am Not Sidney Poitier: A Novel

by Percival Everett
Graywolf Press (May 26, 2009)
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I Am Not Sidney Poitier is an irresistible comic novel from the master storyteller Percival Everett, and an irreverent take on race, class, and identity in America


I was, in life, to be a gambler, a risk-taker, a swashbuckler, a knight. I accepted, then and there, my place in the world. I was a fighter of windmills. I was a chaser of whales. I was Not Sidney Poitier.

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor, and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation.
Percival Everett’s hilarious new novel follows Not Sidney’s tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth. Maturing under the less-than watchful eye of his adopted foster father, Ted Turner, Not gets arrested in rural Georgia for driving while black, sparks a dinnertable explosion at the home of his manipulative girlfriend, and sleuths a murder case in Smut Eye, Alabama, all while navigating the recurrent communication problem: "What’s your name?" a kid would ask. "Not Sidney," I would say. "Okay, then what is it?"


Click for more detail about Life On Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith Life On Mars: Poems

by Tracy K. Smith
Graywolf Press (May 10, 2011)
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A 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Nominated Book

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize* A New York Times Notable Book of 2011 and New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice *
* A New Yorker, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year *New poetry by the award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, whose "lyric brilliance and political impulses never falter" (Publishers Weekly, starred review)You lie there kicking like a baby, waiting for God himself
To lift you past the rungs of your crib. What
Would your life say if it could talk?
—from "No Fly Zone"


With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like "love" and "illness" now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation.


Click for more detail about One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir

by Binyavanga Wainaina
Graywolf Press (Sep 04, 2012)
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Click for more detail about One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir by Binyavanga Wainaina One Day I Will Write About This Place: A Memoir

by Binyavanga Wainaina
Graywolf Press (Jul 19, 2011)
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*A New York Times Notable Book*
*A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice*
*A Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year*Binyavanga Wainaina tumbled through his middle-class Kenyan childhood out of kilter with the world around him. This world came to him as a chaos of loud and colorful sounds: the hair dryers at his mother’s beauty parlor, black mamba bicycle bells, mechanics in Nairobi, the music of Michael Jackson?all punctuated by the infectious laughter of his brother and sister, Jimmy and Ciru. He could fall in with their patterns, but it would take him a while to carve out his own. In this vivid and compelling debut memoir, Wainaina takes us through his school days, his mother’s religious period, his failed attempt to study in South Africa as a computer programmer, a moving family reunion in Uganda, and his travels around Kenya. The landscape in front of him always claims his main attention, but he also evokes the shifting political scene that unsettles his views on family, tribe, and nationhood. Throughout, reading is his refuge and his solace. And when, in 2002, a writing prize comes through, the door is opened for him to pursue the career that perhaps had been beckoning all along. A series of fascinating international reporting assignments follow. Finally he circles back to a Kenya in the throes of postelection violence and finds he is not the only one questioning the old certainties. Resolutely avoiding stereotype and clich, Wainaina paints every scene in One Day I Will Write About This Place with a highly distinctive and hugely memorable brush.


Click for more detail about Pastoral: Poems by Carl Phillips Pastoral: Poems

by Carl Phillips
Graywolf Press (Mar 02, 2002)
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In his newest book, National Book Award finalist Carl Phillips creates a shadowy inner landscape where the field is the heart, and the heart itself has a beautifully, often treacherously flawed darkness that each of us seeks to penetrate, believing in the possibility of light. Examining how to fill and fulfill the life granted us—how to realize the self entirely, and in time—these rhythmically sequenced meditations circle the predicaments of our longing against the backdrop of pastoral tradition. How do we balance control and abandonment when making poetry, as well as in making a life with another person? How do we reconcile fleshly desire and spiritual intention? Tightly coherent, emotionally nuanced, Pastoral both enlarges and defines Phillips’s already impressive poetic territory.


Click for more detail about Percival Everett By Virgil Russell: A Novel by Percival Everett Percival Everett By Virgil Russell: A Novel

by Percival Everett
Graywolf Press (Feb 05, 2013)
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"Anything we take for granted, Mr. Everett means to show us, may turn out to be a lie." —Wall Street Journal
* Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize * Finalist for the PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction *
A story inside a story inside a story. A man visits his aging father in a nursing home, where his father writes the novel he imagines his son would write. Or is it the novel that the son imagines his father would imagine, if he were to imagine the kind of novel the son would write?
Let’s simplify: a woman seeks an apprenticeship with a painter, claiming to be his long-lost daughter. A contractor-for-hire named Murphy can’t distinguish between the two brothers who employ him. And in Murphy’s troubled dreams, Nat Turner imagines the life of William Styron. These narratives twist together with anecdotes from the nursing home, each building on the other until they crest in a wild, outlandish excursion of the inmates led by the father. Anchoring these shifting plotlines is a running commentary between father and son that sheds doubt on the truthfulness of each story. Because, after all, what narrator can we ever trust?
Not only is Percival Everett by Virgil Russell a powerful, compassionate meditation on old age and its humiliations, it is an ingenious culmination of Everett’s recurring preoccupations. All of his prior work, his metaphysical and philosophical inquiries, his investigations into the nature of narrative, have led to this masterful book. Percival Everett has never been more cunning, more brilliant and subversive, than he is in this, his most important and elusive novel to date.


Click for more detail about Sardines: A Novel (Variations On The Theme Of An African Dictatorship) by Nuruddin Farah Sardines: A Novel (Variations On The Theme Of An African Dictatorship)

by Nuruddin Farah
Graywolf Press (Aug 22, 2006)
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Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature

Farah’s landmark Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy is comprised by the novels Sweet and Sour Milk, Sardines, and Close Sesame. In this volume, the second of the three, a woman loses her job as editor of the national newspaper and then finds her efforts to instill her daughter with a sense of dignity and independence threatened by an oppressive government and the traditions of conservative Islam.

Sardines brilliantly combines a social commentary on life under a dictatorship with a compassionate exploration of African feminist issues.


Click for more detail about Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems by Thomas Sayers Ellis Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems

by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Graywolf Press (Aug 31, 2010)
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The ambitious, combative, and spot-on new poetry book by Thomas Sayers Ellis, author of the award-winning The Maverick Room

Naturally, this will scare
the civil rights out of some
and, for a mad-moment, empower
a great many wrong-cultured others.
—from "The Return of Colored Only"

Skin, Inc. is Thomas Sayers Ellis’s big, ambitious argument in sound and image for an America whose identity is in need of repair. In lyric sequences and with his own photographs, Ellis traverses the African American and American literary landscapes—along the way adding race fearlessness to past and present literary styles and themes, and perform-a-forming tributes for the Godfather of Soul, James Brown; the King of Pop, Michael Jackson; and the election of President Barack Obama. Part manifesto, part identity repair kit, part plea for poetic wholeness, this collection worries and self-defends, eulogizes and casts a vote, raises a fist and, often, an intimidating song. One sequence is written as a sonic/ visual diagram of pronouns and vowels; another quotes from editors’ rejections of his own poetry included in the book; another poem, "Race Change Operation," begins: "When I awake I will be white, the color of law." Skin, Inc. is the latest work by one of the most audacious and provocative poets now writing.


Click for more detail about Song Of The Shank: A Novel by Jeffery Renard Allen Song Of The Shank: A Novel

by Jeffery Renard Allen
Graywolf Press (Jun 17, 2014)
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A contemporary American masterpiece about music, race, an unforgettable man, and an unreal America during the Civil War era

At the heart of this remarkable novel is Thomas Greene Wiggins, a nineteenth-century slave and improbable musical genius who performed under the name Blind Tom.
Song of the Shank opens in 1866 as Tom and his guardian, Eliza Bethune, struggle to adjust to their fashionable apartment in the city in the aftermath of riots that had driven them away a few years before. But soon a stranger arrives from the mysterious island of Edgemere—inhabited solely by African settlers and black refugees from the war and riots—who intends to reunite Tom with his now-liberated mother.
As the novel ranges from Tom’s boyhood 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, Jeffery Renard Allen blends history and fantastical invention to bring to life a radical cipher, a man who profoundly changes all who encounter him.


Click for more detail about Sweet And Sour Milk (Variations On The Theme Of An African Dictatorship) by Nuruddin Farah Sweet And Sour Milk (Variations On The Theme Of An African Dictatorship)

by Nuruddin Farah
Graywolf Press (Aug 22, 2006)
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Winner of the 1980 English-Speaking Union Literary AwardThe first novel in Farah’s universally acclaimed Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship trilogy, Sweet and Sour Milk chronicles one man’s search for the reasons behind his twin brother’s violent death during the 1970s. The atmosphere of political tyranny and repression reduces our hero’s quest to a passive and fatalistic level; his search for reasons and answers ultimately becomes a search for meaning. The often detective-story-like narrative of this novel thus moves on a primarily interior plane as "Farah takes us deep into territory he has charted and mapped and made uniquely his own" (Chinua Achebe).


Click for more detail about Take Three: Agni New Poets Series:  1 (Vol 1) by Thomas Sayers Ellis, Larissa Szporluk and Joe Osterhaus Take Three: Agni New Poets Series: 1 (Vol 1)

by Thomas Sayers Ellis, Larissa Szporluk and Joe Osterhaus
Graywolf Press (Feb 01, 1996)
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Take Three PoetsTake Thomas Sayers Ellis: Ellis’s fractured syntax, his spasmodic, staccato utterance suggest a defiant sensibility. Indeed, at the center of Ellis’s work is the figure of an aggressive father, taunting his son into song. Thomas Sayers Ellis was a founding member of Boston’s Dark Room Collective and coeditor of AGNI’s successful poetry anthology, On the VergeTake Larissa Szporluk: This poet stalks a landscape that is humid, stylized, Southern. The poet Gregory Orr says of her work: "Faced with such rending beauty, such ravished lucidity, all we can do is stand back and gaze with gratitude and awe." Larissa Szporluk studied at the Iows Writers’ Workshop, has taught at Bowling Green State University, and now resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Take Joe Osterhaus: Unabashedly intellectual and demanding, Osterhaus’s verse displays a rare elegance. According to David St. John, "these precise meditations are dazzling for their ability to touch the seemingly ordinary moments of a life and find in them the materials of both miracle and change." Joe Osterhaus has published in such places as the Antioch Review, the Boston Review, and the Nebraska Review, and he currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Edited by Askold Melnyczuk and the poetry panel of AGNI magazine, Take Three is the first in an important annual series designed to launch the work of new poets.


Click for more detail about The Black Interior: Essays by Elizabeth Alexander The Black Interior: Essays

by Elizabeth Alexander
Graywolf Press (Jan 01, 2004)
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With a poet’s precision and an intellectually adventurous spirit, Elizabeth Alexander explores a wide spectrum of contemporary African American artistic life through literature, paintings, popular media, and films, and discusses its place in current culture. In The Black Interior, she examines the vital roles of such heavyweight literary figures as Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, and Rita Dove, as well as lesser known, yet vibrant, new creative voices. She offers a reconsideration of "afro-outr" painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, the concept of "race-pride" in Jet magazine, and her take on Denzel Washington’s career as a complex black male icon in a post-affirmative action era. Also available is Alexander’s much heralded essay on Rodney King, Emmett Till, and the collective memory of racial violence.

Alexander, who has been a professor at the University of Chicago and Smith College, and recently at Yale University, has taught and lectured on African American art and culture across the country and abroad for nearly two decades. In The Black Interior, she directs her scrupulous poet’s eye to the urgent cultural issues of the day. This lively collection is a crucial volume for understanding current thinking on race, art, and culture in America.


Click for more detail about The Body’s Question: Poems by Tracy K. Smith The Body’s Question: Poems

by Tracy K. Smith
Graywolf Press (Oct 01, 2003)
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The Body’s Question debuts Tracy K. Smith’s ambitious and engaging new voice

You are pure appetite. I am pure
Appetite. You are a phantom
In that far-off city where daylight
Climbs cathedral walls, stone by stolen stone.
from “Self-Portrait as the Letter Y”

The Body’s Question received the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, selected by Kevin Young. Confronting loss, historical intersections with race and family, and the threshold between childhood and adulthood, Smith gathers courage and direction from the many disparate selves encountered in these poems, until, as she writes, “I was anyone I wanted to be.”


Click for more detail about The Grey Album: On The Blackness Of Blackness by Kevin Young The Grey Album: On The Blackness Of Blackness

by Kevin Young
Graywolf Press (Mar 13, 2012)
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Selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012 by the New York Times

*Finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism**A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Literary Criticism and Essays Pick for Spring 2012*The Grey Album, the first work of prose by the brilliant poet Kevin Young, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction PrizeTaking its title from Danger Mouse’s pioneering mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical choruses to illustrate the African American tradition of lying—storytelling, telling tales, fibbing, improvising, "jazzing." What emerges is a persuasive argument for the many ways that African American culture is American culture, and for the centrality of art—and artfulness—to our daily life. Moving from gospel to soul, funk to freestyle, Young sifts through the shadows, the bootleg, the remix, the grey areas of our history, literature, and music.


Click for more detail about The Maverick Room: Poems by Thomas Sayers Ellis The Maverick Room: Poems

by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Graywolf Press (Jan 01, 2005)
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With its defiance for any one tradition or voice, Thomas Sayers Ellis’s debut becomes a powerful argument against monotony

A dream. A democracy. A savage liberty.
And yet another anthem and yet another heaven
and yet another party wants you.
Wants you wants you wants you.

—from “Groovallegiance”


In one poem, Thomas Sayers Ellis prognosticates, “Pretty soon, the Age of the Talk Show / Will slip on a peel left in the avant- gutter.” The result is The Maverick Room, the testing ground of determination and serendipity, where call-and-response becomes Steinian echo becomes Post-Soul percussive pleasure becomes a bootlegged recording hustled out of a D.C. go-go club.


Click for more detail about The Venus Hottentot: Poems by Elizabeth Alexander The Venus Hottentot: Poems

by Elizabeth Alexander
Graywolf Press (Jan 01, 2004)
Format: Paperback, Age Range: 
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Elizabeth Alexander’s highly praised first collection is available once again

I didn’t want to write a poem that said "blackness
is," because we know better than anyone
that we are not one or ten or ten thousand things
Not one poem
-from "Today’s News"

Originally published in 1990 to widespread acclaim, The Venus Hottentot introduces Elizabeth Alexander’s vital poetic voice, distinguished even in this remarkable first book by its examination of history, gender, and race with an uncommon clarity and music. These poems range from personal memory to cultural history to human personae: John Coltrane, Frida Kahlo, Nelson Mandela, and "The Venus Hottentot," a nineteenth-century African woman who was made into a carnival sideshow exhibit.

In language as vibrant within traditional forms as it is within improvisational lyrics, the poems in The Venus Hottentot demonstrate why Alexander is among our most dazzling and important contemporary poets and cultural critics.

"Alexander creates intellectual magic in poem after poem."
—The New York Times Book Review






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