The Gospel Singer

(Author) (Foreword by)
Product Details
$18.00  $16.74
Penguin Group
Publish Date
5.04 X 7.64 X 0.71 inches | 0.35 pounds
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About the Author
Harry Crews was born in 1935 at the end of a dirt road in Alma, Bacon County, Georgia, a rural community near the Okefenokee Swamp. His father, a tenant farmer, died before Harry was two years old. A mysterious childhood paralysis; a horrible scalding accident; his mother's second, turbulent marriage and divorce from a drunken uncle whom Crews had been led to believe was his natural father; and a move to Jacksonville, Florida, for his mother to find factory work were experiences that would feed his desire to imagine and, ultimately, to write. As a teen, Crews served a tour in the Marine Corps. On the GI Bill, Crews attended the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor's degree in literature followed by a master's in education, with which he taught high-school and junior-college English. A protégé of Southern novelist Andrew Lytle, Crews published his first short story in the Sewanee Review in 1962. He published his first novel, The Gospel Singer, in 1968. Its publication earned Crews a new teaching job at the University of Florida and paved the way for the publication of seven more novels over the next eight years, including Naked in Garden Hills (1969); Car (1972); The Hawk Is Dying (1973), which was adapted into a film released in 2006; The Gypsy's Curse (1974); and the widely acclaimed A Feast of Snakes (1976). Crews's reputation as a bold and daring new voice in Southern writing grew during this time. In the 1970s, he wrote for popular magazines, including a monthly column for Esquire and essays for Playboy, and screenplays. In 1978, Crews's memoir of his youth, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, was published to enduring acclaim. Two compilations of his nonfiction works, Blood and Grits and Florida Frenzy, were issued in 1979 and 1982, respectively. A decade of drug and alcohol abuse and creative lapses ended in 1987 with the publication of his ninth novel, All We Need of Hell. Crews retired from the classroom after teaching for thirty years at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Crews, who died in 2012 at age seventy-six, was a prominent writer in the literary genre known as Dirty South or Grit Lit, notable for its bizarre characters, grotesque violence, and satirical surrealism. His artistic forebears include William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Erskine Caldwell, but Crews remade Southern gothic in his own rough-hewn image in eighteen memorable novels, including Karate Is a Thing of the Spirit (1971), The Knockout Artist (1988), and Body (1990), dozens of riveting nonfiction pieces, and one of the finest memoirs in American literature. In 2002, the University of Georgia Libraries inducted Harry Crews into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

Kevin Wilson (foreword) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang; Perfect Little World; and, most recently, Nothing to See Here, which was named a 2019 Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, People, and Entertainment Weekly.
"Flannery O'Connor on steroids."
--John Williams, GQ

"I don't know where [Harry Crews's] narrative magic comes from, but it is firmly there."
--Joseph Heller

"...a bona fide Southern writer in the vein of Flannery O'Connor, whose unvarnished language and absurdist take on life among the lower rungs of the region's social ladder [is] shot through with a rough-and-tumble kind of was with great pleasure that I spent last weekend reading The Gospel Singer, ... a darkly funny tragedy.... The world he writes about is violent and ruthless....But there's a point to Crews' madness, and always present is a throughline of empathy..."
--Atlanta Journal Constitution