13 Books Published by New Directions Publishing on Our Site — Book Cover Mosaic

Click for more detail about Late Arcade by Nathaniel Mackey Late Arcade

by Nathaniel Mackey
New Directions Publishing (Feb 28, 2017)
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A new volume of the singular, ongoing, great American jazz novel Nathaniel Mackey’s Late Arcade opens in Los Angeles. A musician known only as N. writes the first of a series of letters to the enigmatic Angel of Dust. N.’s jazz sextet, Molimo m’Atet, has just rehearsed a new tune: the horn players read from The Egyptian Book of the Dead with lips clothespinned shut, while the rest of the band struts and saunters in a cosmic hymn to the sun god Ra. N. ends this breathless session by sending the Angel of Dust a cassette tape of their rehearsal.Over the next nine months, N.’s epistolary narration follows the musical goings-on of the ensemble. N. suffers from what he calls “cowrie shell at- tacks”?oil spills, N.’s memory of his mother’s melancholy musical Sundays? which all becomes the source of fresh artistic invention.Here is the newest installment of the National Book Award-winner Nathaniel Mackey’s From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, the great American jazz novel of “exquisite rhythmic lyricism” (Bookforum).


Click for more detail about Oreo by Fran Ross Oreo

by Fran Ross
New Directions Publishing (Jul 07, 2015)
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A pioneering, dazzling satire about a biracial black girl from Philadelphia searching for her Jewish father in New York City Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.

Book Review

Click for more detail about Counternarratives by John Keene Counternarratives

by John Keene
New Directions Publishing (May 21, 2015)
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Conjuring slavery and witchcraft, and with bewitching powers all its own, Counternarratives continually spins history?and storytelling?on its headRanging from the 17th century to our current moment, and crossing multiple continents, Counternarratives’ stories and novellas draw upon memoirs, newspaper accounts, detective stories, interrogation transcripts, and speculative fiction to create new and strange perspectives on our past and present. “An Outtake” chronicles an escaped slave’s take on liberty and the American Revolution;"The Strange History of Our Lady of the Sorrows" presents a bizarre series of events that unfold in a nineteenth-century Kentucky convent; "The Aeronauts" soars between bustling Philadelphia, still-rustic Washington, and the theater of the U.S. Civil War; “Rivers,” presents a free Jim meeting up decades later with his former raftmate Huckleberry Finn; and in "Acrobatique," the subject of a famous Edgar Degas painting talks back.


Click for more detail about Blue Fasa by Nathaniel Mackey Blue Fasa

by Nathaniel Mackey
New Directions Publishing (May 05, 2015)
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A stellar new collection of poems by “the Balanchine of the architecture dance” (The New York Times), and winner of the National Book Award in poetry. Nathaniel Mackey’s sixth collection of poems, Blue Fasa, carries forward what the New Yorker has described as the “mythological conception” and “descriptive daring” of his two intertwined serial poems. A long song that’s one and more than one, this collection takes its title from two related black musical traditions, a West African griot epic as told by the Fasa, a clan in ancient Ghana, and trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s hard bop classic “Blue Bossa,” influenced by the emergence of Brazilian bossa nova. The book opens with the catch of the heart and the call of romance, as it follows a band of travelers, refugees from history, on their incessant migrations through time, place, and polity toward a truer sense of being and belonging.


Click for more detail about Nod House by Nathaniel Mackey Nod House

by Nathaniel Mackey
New Directions Publishing (Nov 21, 2011)
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A stellar new collection of poems by “the Balanchine of the architecture dance” (The New York Times) and winner of the 2006 National Book Award in poetry. With Nathaniel Mackey’s fifth collection of poems, Nod House, we witness a confluence of music and meaning unprecedented in American poetry. Mackey’s art continues to push the envelope of what is possible to map and remap through words in sounds and sounds in words. Picking up with Nub’s disintegration at the end of his previous collection ? the National Book Award–winning Splay Anthem ? we follow a traveler and a tribe of travelers ensconced in myth and history as Mackey continues to weave his precisely measured music with two ongoing serial poems, Song of the Andoumboulou and Mu. The collec- tion is divided into two sections, both titled “Quag,” and it is this double-Quag (“Nub’s new colony Quag” or Qraq or Ouab’da or Quaph . . .) that the tribe is exiled in, worlds within alternate worlds where names and places are ever-shifting, and dreamlessness reigns. From the pyramids to the projects, Ivory Coast to Lone Coast, Lagos to Stick City, amidst chorusing horns and star-spar lightning, Nod House (“Nub’s / new / address”) unfolds as gorgeous eulogy, copla-cuts of deep song, the long elegiac march of “day after day of the dead.”


Click for more detail about From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate by Nathaniel Mackey From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate

by Nathaniel Mackey
New Directions Publishing (Jul 30, 2010)
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The great American jazz novel of “such exquisite rhythmic lyricism” (Bookforum) by National Book Award Winner Nathaniel Mackey.From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate: Volumes 1-3 collects the first three installments?Bedouin Hornbook, Djbot Baghostus’s Run, and Atet A.D.?of Nathaniel Mackey’s genre-defying work of fiction. A project that began over thirty years ago, From a Broken Bottle is an epistolary novel that unfolds through N.’s intricate letters to the mysterious Angel of Dust. Unexpected, profound happenings take place as N. delves into music and art and the goings-on of his transmorphic Los Angeles-based jazz ensemble, in which he is a composer and instrumentalist. This triple-set book opens in July 1978 with a dream of a haunting Archie Shepp solo, and closes in September 1982 in a parallactic studio recording session on a glass-bottomed boat borne aloft by the music. The fourth volume of Mackey’s novel, Bass Cathedral?also available from New Directions?was chosen by The New York Times as one of 100 Notable Books of 2008. But that it didn’t end there…


Click for more detail about Bass Cathedral by Nathaniel Mackey Bass Cathedral

by Nathaniel Mackey
New Directions Publishing (Jan 17, 2008)
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The Great American Jazz Novel by Nathaniel Mackey, winner of the 2006 National Book Award. Los Angeles, October 1982: Molimo m’Atet, formerly known as the The Mystic Horn Society, is preparing to release its new album Orphic Bend. The members of the jazz ensemble?Aunt Nancy, Djamilaa, Drennette, Lambert, N., and Penguin?are witness to a strange occurrence: while listening to their test pressing, the moment Aunt Nancy’s bass solo begins a balloon emerges from the vinyl, bearing a mysterious message: I dreamt you were gone…. Through letters N. writes to a figure called Angel of Dust, the ever-mutating story unfolds, leaving no musician or listener untouched.Bass Cathedral is Mackey’s fourth volume in his ongoing novel with no beginning or end, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate. Thought balloons morph into mute-stereoptic emanations; N. encounters a master mouthpiece-maker; Drennette leaves Penguin dateless; Lambert’s kicking it around with Melanie?much is abuzz but something else is happening to the ensemble. The music seems to be living them. N. suffers cowrie shell attacks and they are all stranded on an Orphic Shore. Socio-political forces are at play or has this always been the essence and accident of the music’s resilience? And Hotel Didjeridoo must be resurrected, but how? Myth spins music spins thought spins sex?Mackey’s post-bop boxless box set is, as the Utne Reader wrote, "Avant-garde literature you can love: an evolving multivolume novel of the jazz world that plays with language and ideas the way Thelonious Monk plays with flatted fifths."


Click for more detail about DS (2): Dreamstories by Kamau Brathwaite DS (2): Dreamstories

by Kamau Brathwaite
New Directions Publishing (Apr 17, 2007)
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The startling new work by internationally celebrated Caribbean poet, historian and cultural theorist Kamau Brathwaite, winner of the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize. In DS (2)?Dreamstories 2?Kamau Brathwaite continues his ongoing collection of prose poems, comprised of the broken images, flow, and half-told stories of dreams. The poetic stories in DS (2) use Brathwaite’s trademark sycorax video style, offering personal revelations mixed with political and historical fables occurring around the globe. Brathwaite’s prose poems relate with ardency and pathos the Caribbean experience and are a potent voice of the African diaspora. Nathaniel Mackey wrote: "Kamau Brathwaite’s ’calibanic play’ reveals a fiendish delight in the slippage to which words are prone." And American Book Review wrote: "In its rhythms as well as its explorations of ’nation language’ and of the traces of an African past, this is a populist work." This exciting new offering by Kamau Brathwaite follows on the heels of the publication of Brathwaite’s Born to Slow Horses, which won the coveted 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize.


Click for more detail about Splay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey Splay Anthem

by Nathaniel Mackey
New Directions Publishing (May 30, 2006)
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In a stunning new collection of poems of transport and transcendence, African-American poet Nathaniel Mackey’s "asthmatic song of aspiration" scuttles across cultures and histories—from America to Andalucía, from Ethiopia to Vienna—in a sexy, beautiful adaptive dance.

Part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper, Nathaniel Mackey’s new collection of poems, Splay Anthem, takes the reader to uncharted poetic spaces. Divided into three sections—"Braid," "Fray," and "Nub" (one referent Mackey notes in his stellar Introduction: "the imperial, flailing republic of Nub the United States has become, the shrunken place the earth has become, planet Nub")—Splay Anthem weaves together two ongoing serial poems Mackey has been writing for over twenty years, Song of the Andoumboulou and "Mu" (though "mu no more itself / than Andoumboulou").

In the cosmology of the Dogon of West Africa, the Andoumboulou are progenitor spirits, and the song of the Andoumboulou is a song addressed to the spirits, a funeral song, a song of rebirth. "Mu," too, splays with meaning: muni bird, Greek muthos, a Sun Ra tune, a continent once thought to have existed in the Pacific. With the vibrancy of a Miró painting, Mackey’s poems trace the lost tribe of "we" through waking and dreamtime, through a multitude of geographies, cultures, histories, and musical traditions, as poetry here serves as the intersection of everything, myth’s music, spirit lift.


Click for more detail about Ancestors by Kamau Brathwaite Ancestors

by Kamau Brathwaite
New Directions Publishing (Aug 27, 2001)
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Offers a revised edition of Brathwaite’s Mother Poem, Sun Poem, and X/Self poems which explore the author’s family and childhood in Barbados and his experiences with slavery and colonialism.


Click for more detail about Black + Blues by Kamau Brathwaite Black + Blues

by Kamau Brathwaite
New Directions Publishing (Oct 01, 1995)
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A collection of poems includes Fetish, Totem, Caliban, Springblade, Bread, Xango, and Koker.


Click for more detail about Annotations (New Directions Paperbook) by John Keene Annotations (New Directions Paperbook)

by John Keene
New Directions Publishing (Oct 01, 1995)
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An experimental first novel by a Black American. Praised by Ishmael Reed. Set in St. Louis.


Click for more detail about Middle Passages by Kamau Brathwaite Middle Passages

by Kamau Brathwaite
New Directions Publishing (Nov 01, 1993)
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MiddlePassages is an offshoot of the author’s second trilogy, ’a splice of time & space’, as he puts it, between his/father’s world of Sun Poem and ’the magical irrealism’ of X/Self. With his other ’shorter’ collections Black + Blues and Third World Poems, MiddlePassages creates a kind of chisel which may well lead us into a projected third trilogy. Here is a political angle to Brathwaite’s Caribbean & New World quest, with new notes of protest and lament. It marks a Sisyphean stage of Third World history in which things fall apart and everyone’s achievements come tumbling back down upon their heads and into their hearts, like the great stone which King Sisyphus was condemned to keep heaving back up the same hill in hell - a postmodernist implosion already signalled by Baldwin, Patterson, Soyinka and Achebe and more negatively by V.S. Naipaul; but given a new dimension here by Brathwaite’s rhythmical and ’video’ affirmations. And so MiddlePassages includes poems for those modern heroes who are the pegs by which the mountain must be climbed again: Maroon resistance, the poets Nicolas Guillen, the Cuban revolutionary, and Mikey Smith, stoned to death on Stony Hill; the great musicians (Ellington, Bessie Smith); and Third World leaders Kwame Nkrumah, Walter Rodney and Nelson Mandela.




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