A gathering of the best jazz fiction from the 1920s to the present, this anthology includes 20th-century fiction by Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, Richard Yates, and others, plus important recent work from writers such as Yusef Komunyakaa, Xu Xi, and Amiri Baraka. Together these artists demonstrate the strong influence of jazz on fiction. That influence can be felt in prose styles shaped by jazz—freewheeling, dramatic, conversational, improvisatory; in stories of players and listeners searching for what lies beyond the music's aesthetic power; and in the ambience of the jazz performance as captured by the written word. What sounds throughout these stories is the universal voice of humanity that is the essence of the music.
“The Jazz Fiction Anthology fills a vast hole in the canon of American literature. Jazz, central to the American vernacular, stimulated writers during the entire course of the 20th century, but no previous anthology of jazz-inspired fiction has assembled under one roof such a culturally varied and historically important group of stories. Here at last is a beautiful, carefully chosen collection, as surprising as the music, as swinging as the rhythms of this age.”
— A.B. Spellman, author of Four Lives in the Bebop Business
“A superb selection that illuminates the fascinating variety of literary responses to jazz.”
— Dan Morgenstern, author of Living with Jazz
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Table of Contents
1. Don Asher, "The Barrier"
2. James Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues"
3. Toni Cade Bambara, "Medley"
4. Amiri Baraka, "Norman's Date"
5. Amiri Baraka, "The Screamers"
6. Frank London Brown, "Singing Dinah's Song"
7. Michelle Cliff, "A Woman Who Plays Trumpet Is Deported"
8. Wanda Coleman, "Jazz at Twelve"
9. Julio Cortázar, "Bix Beiderbecke"
10. Julio Cortázar, "The Pursuer"
11. Kiki DeLancey, "Swingtime"
12. Ralph Ellison, "A Coupla Scalped Indians"
13. Rudolph Fisher, "Common Meter"
14. Sam Greenlee, "Blues for Little Prez"
15. David Huddle, Tenorman: A Novella
16. Langston Hughes, "The Blues I'm Playing"
17. Langston Hughes, "Old Ghost Revives Atavistic Memories in a Lady of the DAR"
18. Phil Kawana, "Dead Jazz Guys"
19. Yusef Komunyakaa, "Buddy's Monologue"
20. Ellen Jordis Lewis, "Miss Brown to You"
21. William Henry Lewis, "Rossonian Days"
22. John McCluskey, "Lush Life"
23. Bill Moody, "Child's Play"
24. James Reed, "The Shrimp Peel Gig"
25. Josef <S,HAC>kvoreck<y,ACU>, "The End of Bull Mácha"
26. Terry Southern, "You're Too Hip, Baby"
27. Julian Street, "The Jazz Baby"
28. Boris Vian, "<apos>Round About Close to Midnight"
29. Eudora Welty, "Powerhouse"
30. John Edgar Wideman, "The Silence of Thelonious Monk"
31. Xu Xi, "Jazz Wife"
32. Richard Yates, "A Really Good Jazz Piano"
AcknowledgmentsAmerican Book Review