You have just been hit by Ishmael Reed, one of the most prolific black writers of the latter half of the 20th century. Part cultural detective, part bloodhound, part trickster, the Oakland residents 30-year career has been a roller coaster ride of both accolades and literary antagonisms.
Twice nominated for the National Book Award, once a finalist for the Pulitzer, and branded a “genius” by the MacArthur Foundation, Reeds books have incited radicals to label him a conservative and conservatives to paint him as a radical. He has written fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays, and even penned blues songs that he performs with a band. All the while, Reed has taught English at U.C. Berkeley for the past 20 years.
Now, the breadth and variety of Reeds career can be seen whole. The Reed Reader, published by Basic Books, is a collage of his written work over the last three decades.
Reed settles in his chair and sips on his coffee, staring at you with the same searing intensity that jumps off the back jacket of his books.
“Ive done well in my writing career considering how the United States treats black male writers,” says Reed. “Black writers are under literary colonialism. It
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