Always a step ahead, Baraka in 1964 recorded a reading of his provocative poem, 'Black Dada Nihilimus, ' to the avant-garde jazz of the New York Art Quartet. Tales, a collection of impressionistic short stories, reads like an angry James Joyce. I spent an amazing hour with Baraka in the 1990s and first read Tales in an African American literature class I took in college. I was hooked from the first paragraph.
We owe profound thanks to Akashic Books for reissuing this important collection of Amiri Baraka's short stories. Baraka was, without question, the central figure of the Black Arts Movement, and was the most important theorist of that movement's expression of the 'Black Aesthetic, ' which took hold of the African American cultural imagination in earnest in the late sixties. While known primarily for his plays, poems, and criticism of black music, Baraka was also a master of the short story form, as this collection attests. Tales first appeared in 1967 and is an impressionistic and sometimes surrealistic collection of short fiction, showcasing Amiri Baraka's great impact on African American literature of the 1950s and 1960s. Tales is a critical volume in Amiri Baraka's oeuvre, and an important testament to his remarkable literary legacy.
--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
A clutch of early stories from the poet, playwright, and provocateur, infused with jazz and informed by racial alienation...Worth reading to see the way Baraka] feverishly tinkered with ways to explore a multiplicity of black experiences. An intense and button-pushing collection.
Praise for Amiri Baraka:
Baraka's stories evoke a mood of revolutionary disorder, conjuring an alternative universe in which a dangerous African-American underground, or a dangerous literary underground still exists...Baraka is at his best as a lyrical prophet of despair who transfigures his contentious racial and political views into a transcendent, 'outtelligent' clarity.
--New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice) on Tales of the Out & the Gone
The sixteen artful and nuanced stories in this reissue of Amiri Baraka's seminal 1967 collection fall into two parts: the first nine concern themselves with the sensibility of a hip, perceptive young black man in white America. The last seven stories endeavor to place that same man within the context of his awareness of and participation in a rapidly emerging and powerfully felt negritude. They deal, it might be said, with the black man in black America. Yet these tales are not social tracts, but absolutely masterful fiction--provocative, witty, and, at times, bitter and aggressi