Whether he likes it or not, Ishmael Reed has for some time now occupied a black outpost in a white landscape. To judge from his new book, he doesn't like it much. His latest work, written with black humor, is a satire on the unfinished race between the races in America and throughout history. Not only to white readers like myself wilt the way into and out of this maze be puzzling. For though it's a novel, the author's method is not novelistic.
|Published (Last):||10 June 2017|
|PDF File Size:||6.89 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||1.51 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Ordinarily I am not a regular reader of fiction, however this literary classic is most definitely worthy of note. Reed spins a fascinating tale of the enchanting world of Hoodoo and Voodoo. Mumbo Jumbo is the real deal, it takes mystical subject matter and weaves it into a surrealistic novel revolving around Afro-diasporan religion. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read.
Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed. Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed.
In it, Reed, one of our preeminent African-American authors, mixes portraits of historical figures and fictional characters with sound bites on subjects ranging from ragti The Classic Freewheeling Look at Race Relations Through the Ages Mumbo Jumbo is Ishmael Reed's brilliantly satiric deconstruction of Western civilization, a racy and uproarious commentary on our society. In it, Reed, one of our preeminent African-American authors, mixes portraits of historical figures and fictional characters with sound bites on subjects ranging from ragtime to Greek philosophy.
Cited by literary critic Harold Bloom as one of the five hundred most significant books in the Western canon, Mumbo Jumbo is a trenchant and often biting look at black-white relations throughout history, from a keen observer of our culture. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages.
Published June 11th by Scribner first published August More Details Original Title. National Book Award Finalist for Fiction Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Mumbo Jumbo , please sign up. What happened to Black Sabbath??? See 1 question about Mumbo Jumbo…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3.
Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Mumbo Jumbo. Reed is the sort of impish satirical crank whose Promethean intellect and restlessly zesty creativity tingles my funnybones, but whose books always leave me yearning for more logic, understanding and clarity. No exception here. More to the point: the references of whatever African-African late 60s cultural moment under analysis are entirely lost on a year-old whitey from Backwoods, Scotchland, so the book deserves a more clued-in reader.
In terms of the language, Reed has dropped the wizardry from his first two books Yellow Radio and Freelance Pallbearers , which is a shame, because his skill in that regard is nonpareil. View all 3 comments.
Jul 08, Nathan "N. It swings! To say we have it coming is an understatement. Makes no difference what I say. Jes Grew is upon you. You know what Emma says about revolutions and dancing? More Reed please. View all 11 comments. Jun 25, Zadignose rated it liked it Shelves: 20th-century. Mumbo Jumbo is an innovative novel with it's own original voice, which unfortunately turns rather clunky somewhere in the middle, and doesn't quite recover in the end.
The strength of the novel is in its playfulness. There are some good parodic moments, and while the book indulges in some far flights of fancy in developing its conspiracy theories, it knows how to have fun with its own conceits, rather than deliver its material too dryly.
There are certainly messages of social relevance within the Mumbo Jumbo is an innovative novel with it's own original voice, which unfortunately turns rather clunky somewhere in the middle, and doesn't quite recover in the end. There are certainly messages of social relevance within the work. In that way it's a kind of coded text though you don't need an enigma machine to puzzle it out While I'm sure we're not meant to take it as literal truth, with year old white Knights Templar plotting in a grand conspiracy to keep the black man down because of the danger inherent in his dance, there's certainly plenty of fair criticism of: -art institutes as a form of cultural piracy, -patronizing patrons who damn with faint praise, -generational disconnect that prevents the youth from learning from the legacy of their elders, -white America's contempt for Haiti and ignorance of its history, -wishy-washy white do-gooders whose sympathy is suspect and unreliable, -the indoctrination of some black folks to have contempt for their own race once they've been given a chance to rise one or two steps above their brethren, -and the hypocrisy of belittling native Afro-Caribbean spiritualism in favor of the white man's goofy Bible or Quran, as though those religious traditions were less "primitive" for the virtue of having been blessed by contact with Western Culture.
So, okay, there you have it. Depending on your perspective, you may feel the book scores some points, or you may find its reliance on archetypes and some of its cartoonishness to be a little off-putting. Then, there's the important theme, perhaps the more poignant one, of the elder who's seen it all, but can't get the kids of today to understand the nature of the conflict and the struggle that he's been through.
He's a celebrated relic of sorts, respected in a token way, but not really understood, and his culture will not be passed on. The historic struggle of soul vs. Since they can't grasp their own history, we can just anticipate that the old struggle will return as the new struggle. Our crumbling bridge between past and future, PaPa LaBas, was already suffering from a degree of self-doubt and disconnect from his own roots, so his position seems to be a mix of tragedy and hope. He knows a lot about what has been lost, and what is being lost, while he can only guess at what will come to replace it.
And he has reason for anxiety, knowing that dangers lurk, which the too credulous and apathetic new generation doubts or fails to suspect deeply enough, so that they remain unarmed. So, hey, that sounds mostly good, so where's the downside? Well, the book succumbs to the author's temptation to explain a bit too much, and to take some of the book's fancies a little more seriously than we might have expected from the earlier developments.
Not that the book "explains" in the way I have done here yeah, I'm dry and not fun, and I'm secretly a member of the Wallflower Order , but rather there's a long expository section in which the details of a conspiracy spanning all of human history are laid out. Along the way, some of the humor gets a bit sour, as the author indulges in intentional anachronisms that for some reason don't seem to fit the tone of what surrounds them e.
I had a feeling that the author would have better pursued one of two contrary options: -Best would be Option A: Leave out almost all explanation. Keep it in your head as a secret key to the novel which doesn't need to be exposed to the reader. Develop and expand that whole expository section into an engaging, sprightly narrative on par with what came before, don't worry about the fact that it swells the novel to twice its current size, and still don't explain everything.
Maybe find a way to weave it more seamlessly into the framing narrative. But the least good option, Option C, is the way the book went, which was to just tell everyone what your idea was, even though the narrative progress is brought to a grinding halt.
And then we discover that the plot that we thought was still developing is now shortly terminated. Then we get a confusing epilogue which gets across the theme mentioned above relating to PaPa LaBas as the bridge Ultimately, it was a good read, something I'm glad to have given my time to, but reading it involved some frustrations and disappointments too. I'm hoping that I'll find another Ishmael Reed book that I can embrace more enthusiastically, with less reservations.
Final point: Ishmael Reed cleverly set out to make me feel guilty for criticizing his book before I had the opportunity to do so. This book, and some of the author's comments outside of this book, criticize the critic who imposes conventional, conservative expectations upon a work, one who is too ready to slight the accomplishment of a black artist who takes risks to express himself in a mode outside the mainstream. That plus the fact that I can't dance basically makes me a soulless sucker, but as an Atonist, I just can't deny my own legacy.
Shelves: fiction , not-owned , damn-the-man , african-american. I'm often leery when friends of mine lend me their favorite books. How soon do you expect me to read this? You know I have a stack of books the size of an end table still to read, right? Most intimidating of all, what if I don't like the read or what if I find it to be so bad that my opinion of you as a friend is changed due to your devotion to these pages?
After more tha I'm often leery when friends of mine lend me their favorite books. After more than a few heated arguments about the merits of a particular book with friends I've had to place myself at a bit more of a remove from things. It's this same reason why I never recommend my favorite books for monthly book club reads. I take reading more personally than most, apparently. So it was with much trepidation and nervousness that I accepted my friend James' copy of this book.
Battered and well worn, with passages underlined and bracketed from multiple read-throughs, this was obviously a well-loved book. I felt as though we were at a turning point in our friendship and this slim volume would be the pivot upon which the whole relationship would turn.
So I guess it's a good thing that I ended up rather enjoying this light-hearted romp. Taking place in Prohibition-era New York City, Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo charts the rise of ragtime and jazz as an infectious thought meme of liberation and fertility called Jes Grew beating its tattoo of freedom from hierarchical society straight from the heart of ancient Egypt.
Mumbo Jumbo: a dazzling classic finally gets the recognition it deserves
Mumbo Jumbo has remained in print for 45 years, since its first edition, and has been published in French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and British editions, with a Chinese translation currently in production. Set in s New York City , the novel depicts the elderly Harlem houngan PaPa LaBas and his companion Black Herman racing against the Wallflower Order, an international conspiracy dedicated to monotheism and control, as they attempt to root out the cause of and deal with the "Jes Grew" virus, a personification of ragtime, jazz, polytheism, and freedom. The Wallflower Order is said to work in concert with a still-existent  Knights Templar Order to prevent people from dancing, to end the dance crazes spreading among black people. The virus is spread by certain black artists, referred to in the novel as "Jes Grew Carriers" or "J. Historical, social, and political events mingle freely with fictional inventions. The United States' occupation of Haiti , attempts by whites to suppress jazz music, and the widespread belief that president Warren Harding had black ancestry are mingled with a plot in which the novel's hero, PaPa LaBas, searches for a mysterious book that has disappeared with black militant Abdul Sufi Hamid whose name reflects that of the Harlem streetcorner radical preacher Sufi Abdul Hamid , a.
Mumbo Jumbo, which has just been reissued as a Penguin Modern Classic, reeks of some kind of immortal pertinence. Reed has a certain immortality himself, as the author of novels, poetry, plays and music for more than 50 years. His work is embedded in every level of black culture in America. His 10 novels are, for the most part, subtle satires on race, worked into settings such as the OJ Simpson trials, a US civil war in which photocopiers exist and a wild west where cowboys wield laser guns. But Mumbo Jumbo is the most dazzling of them all. The new thang … Your style.
Ordinarily I am not a regular reader of fiction, however this literary classic is most definitely worthy of note. Reed spins a fascinating tale of the enchanting world of Hoodoo and Voodoo. Mumbo Jumbo is the real deal, it takes mystical subject matter and weaves it into a surrealistic novel revolving around Afro-diasporan religion. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving….