Mumbo Jumbo (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972), was the work that first achieved wide notoriety for the author, and it is considered by several scholars to be his best, along with Flight to Canada (1976). Mumbo Jumbo is a mythic/magic epic centered in places like New Orleans and Harlem during the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. The story depicts the struggle between Jes Grew, the black cultural impulse, and Western monotheistic tradition, which Reed calls the Atonists. Reed incorporates illustrations, footnotes and bibliographies in parody of the documentary conventions of black realism. The dust jacket for Mumbo Jumbo was designed by Reed and Allen Weinberg.
Review by Adnan Ashraf removed at the author's request.
Review by John L. Smith:
This is a very interesting esoteric conspiracy novel written from an African-American perspective -- the Prince Hall Illuminatus Trilogy, if you will -- and it is certainly significant that they were written at about the same time. Mumbo Jumbo deals with Harlem in the Twenties, the birth of Jazz, dirty dancing, Voo-Doo, the Templars, ancient Egypt, Secret Societies, Shadow Governments, and any number of other endearing subjects. The treatment is highly original and makes this well worth dipping your head into.
back to our
Ishmael Reed page