A major literary event--the eagerly anticipated publication of a long-lost novel from legendary writer and three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee John Oliver Killens, hailed as the founding father of the Black Arts Movement and mentor to celebrated writers, including Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Arthur Flowers, and Terry McMillan.
Wanderlust has taken Jimmy Jay Leander Johnson on numerous adventures, from Mississippi to Washington D.C., Vietnam, London and eventually to Africa, to the fictitious Independent People's Democratic Republic of Guanaya, where the young musician hopes to "find himself."
But this small sliver of a country in West Africa, recently freed from British colonial rule, is thrown into turmoil with the discovery of cobanium--a radioactive mineral 500 times more powerful than uranium, making it irresistible for greedy speculators, grifters, and charlatans. Overnight, outsiders descend upon the sleepy capital city looking for "a piece of the action."
When a plot to assassinate Guanaya's leader is discovered, Jimmy Jay--a dead ringer for the Prime Minister--is enlisted in a counter scheme to foil the would-be coup. He will travel to America with half of Guanaya's cabinet ministers to meet with the President of the United States and address the UN General Assembly, while the rest of the cabinet will remain in Guanaya with the real Prime Minister.
What could go wrong?
Set in the 1980s, this smart, funny, dazzlingly brilliant novel is a literary delight--and the final gift from an American literary legend.
About the Author
A novelist, teacher, mentor, screenwriter, essayist, and activist, John Oliver Killens (1916-1987) is one of the most important figures in African American literary culture, considered one of the founding fathers of the Black Arts Movement. Three of his novels, Youngblood; And Then We Heard the Thunder; and The Cotillion, or One Good Bull Is Half the Herd, were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His students included Tina McElroy Ansa, Bebe Moore Campbell, Arthur Flowers, Nikki Giovanni, Elizabeth Nunez, Terry McMillan, and scores of others. In conjunction with his teaching appointments--the New School for Social Research, Fisk University, Columbia University, Howard University, Bronx Community College, and Medgar Evers College--Killens created and directed a series of writers conferences between 1965 and 1986 that served as milestones in African American literary history.
Ishmael Reed is the author of over twenty-five books including Mumbo Jumbo, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, Conjugating Hindi, Why No Confederate Statues in Mexico and most recently Why the Black Hole Sings the Blues and The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is also a publisher, television producer, songwriter, radio and television commentator, lecturer, and has long been devoted to exploring an alternative black aesthetic: the trickster tradition, or Neo-Hoodooism. A regular contributor to CounterPunch and founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley for over thirty years, retiring in 2005. Reed is the only person to be nominated for the National Book Award in two categories in the same year.