With black and brown bodies being felled daily -- from Cleveland to Ferguson, Baltimore to Oakland -- by an assortment of institutional and systematic forces shrugging off protest when they are not stamping it ou, the stories of these lives, or ones like them, are the stuff of histories untold by History. John Keene's magnificent collection of stories/novellas reads like an epic novel chronicling hte colonized's defiant desire for justice and the slave's multiform attempts at retribution. These lives that matter...matter, and in Keene's hand spin the contrlling narrative of History differently.
Now in paperback, a bewitching collection of stories and novellas that are “suspenseful, thought-provoking, mystical, and haunting” (Publishers Weekly)
Ranging from the seventeenth century to the present, and crossing multiple continents, Counternarratives draws upon memoirs, newspaper accounts, detective stories, and interrogation transcripts to create new and strange perspectives on our past and present. “An Outtake” chronicles an escaped slave’s take on liberty and the American Revolution; “The Strange History of Our Lady of the Sorrows” presents a bizarre series of events that unfold in Haiti and a nineteenth-century Kentucky convent; “The Aeronauts” soars between bustling Philadelphia, still-rustic Washington, and the theater of the U. S. Civil War; “Rivers” portrays a free Jim meeting up decades later with his former raftmate Huckleberry Finn; and in “Acrobatique,” the subject of a famous Edgar Degas painting talks back.
About the Author
John Keene is a former member of the Dark Room Writers Collective, a graduate fellow of Cave Canem, and the recipient of many awards and fellowships—including a MacArthur Genius Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize, and the Whiting Foundation Prize for fiction. Keene teaches at Rutgers.
Counternarratives is an extraordinary work of literature. John Keene is a dense, intricate, and magnificent writer.
— Christine Smallwood
Of the scope of William T. Vollmann or Samuel R. Delany, but with a kaleidoscopic intuition all its own, Counternarratives is very easily one of the most vividly imagined and vitally timed books of the year. I haven’t felt so refreshed in quite a while as a reader.
— Blake Butler
Keene exerts superb control over his stories, costuming them in the style of Jorge Luis Borges. Yet he preserves the undercurrent of excitement and pathos that accompanies his characters’ persecution and their groping toward freedom. — Sam Sacks