“Look, LaBas, Herman. I believe that you two have something. Something that is basic, something that has been tested and something that all of our people have, it lies submerged in their talk and their music and you are trying to bring it back, but you will fail.
It’s the 1920s, not 8000 B.C. These are modern times. These are the last days of your roots and your conjure and your gris-gris and your healing potions and love powder.
I am building something that people will understand. This county is eclectic. The architecture, the people, the music, the writing. The thing that works here will have a little bit of jive talk and a little bit of North Africa, a fez-wearing mulatto in a pinstriped suit.
A man who can say ‘give me some skin’ as well as ‘Asalamilakum’.
Haven’t you heard? This is the country wheresomething is successful in direct proportion to how it’s put over; how it’s gamed.”
—Excerpt from Ishmael Reed’s satiric, staggering, and significant MUMBO JUMBO. If you haven’t read it or listened to the brilliant audio adaptation, you’re missing really one of the most important, informed, and strangely prophetic works written about both the dream and the nightmare of America.
It comes with highest recommendation. Go seek it out.