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Cover for Mumbo Jumbo

Mumbo Jumbo

Ishmael Reed


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Other Editions of This Title:
MP3 CD (3/24/2020)


The classic freewheeling look at race relations through the ages.

Mumbo Jumbo is Ishmael Reed’s brilliantly satiric deconstruction of Western civilization, a racy and uproarious commentary on our society. In it, Reed, one of our preeminent African American authors, mixes portraits of historical figures and fictional characters with sound bites on subjects ranging from ragtime to Greek philosophy. Cited by literary critic Harold Bloom as one of the five hundred most significant books in the Western canon, Mumbo Jumbo is a trenchant and often biting look at black-white relations throughout history, from a keen observer of our culture.

Praise For Mumbo Jumbo

“Brilliantly idiosyncratic… For half a century, Ishmael Reed has been American literature’s most fearless satirist.”
The New Yorker

"Part vision, part satire, part farce...A wholly original, unholy cross between the craft of fiction and witchcraft."
The New York Times


"A dazzling classic ... exhilarating ... like jazz, the novel feels improvisatory and ambitious [...] It is a funny book about conspiracy theories that nonetheless feels serious and true. A philosophical and ingenious American race satire."

"From its title on, Mumbo Jumbo serves as a critique of black and Western literary forms and conventions, and of the complex relationships between the two."
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Author of The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

"Brilliant, phantasmal, eccentric...A visionary comic myth."
The Boston Globe 

"A 'HooDoo' thriller, an all-out assault on Western civilization...Reed's best novel."
The Saturday Review 

"A great writer."
James Baldwin 

Scribner, 9780684824772, 224pp.

Publication Date: June 11, 1996

About the Author

Ishmael Reed is the author of over twenty-five books including Mumbo JumboYellow 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.