The first work of prose by the brilliant poet Kevin Young, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize
The Grey Album
On the Blackness of Blackness
- “[In] The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, the accomplished poet Kevin Young unearths, orchestrates, improvises and imagines lies and more lies—in short, American history.”—David Shields, The New York Times Book Review
Taking its title from Danger Mouse’s pioneering mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical choruses to illustrate the African American tradition of lying—storytelling, telling tales, fibbing, improvising, “jazzing.” What emerges is a persuasive argument for the many ways that African American culture is American culture, and for the centrality of art—and artfulness—to our daily life. Moving from gospel to soul, funk to freestyle, Young sifts through the shadows, the bootleg, the remix, the grey areas of our history, literature, and music.
- Winner of the 2013 PEN Open Book Award
Finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism
A 2012 New York Times Notable Book
- “Equal parts blues shout, church sermon, interpretive dance, TED talk, lit-crit manifesto and mixtape . . . The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness is an ambitious blast of fact and feeling, a nervy piece of performance art.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
- “Dense and brilliant. . . . The Grey Album is a work of syncretic cultural criticism, a mosaic of ideas, quotations, analyses, lyrics, and allusions, diffuse yet cumulatively masterful.”—The Washington Post
- “The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness is not only one of the most learned historical surveys of African American (and American) culture, but also a supremely stylish tribute to generations of creative African Americans.”—San Francisco Chronicle
This book is made possible, in part, through endowed gifts from the Arsham Ohanessian Charitable Remainder Unitrust, endowed gifts from the Ruth Easton Fund of the Edelstein Family Foundation, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.