68°

Topics

James Buchanan
'Song of the Shank' gives poetic voice to a unique American musician
'Song of the Shank' gives poetic voice to a unique American musician

"Song of the Shank," Jeffery Renard Allen's epic and brilliant new novel about slavery and musical genius, is not an easy book to read. There is, for starters, the book's odd and sometimes confounding protagonist, based on a real man who is most often referred to in historical accounts as "Blind Tom." "He isn't talking. He isn't playing," his mother observes when Tom is a boy. "He isn't even moving." As he grows into adulthood, Blind Tom is a cipher for dozens of pages and then suddenly sets off torrents of words and original music. Tom Wiggins, born a slave in Georgia, was a musical prodigy (arguably one of the greatest of...

Loading