A Different Drummer
the extraordinary rediscovered classic
by William Melvin Kelley
Pub Date 01 Nov 2018
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‘This book is astonishingly great… It should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the United States as it was, as it is, and as it could be’ – NetGalley user
‘A Different Drummer was first published well over 50 years ago, but its themes and it message are no less relevant now than they were then’ – NetGalley user
In 1962, aged just 24, William Melvin Kelley's debut novel A Different Drummer earned him critical comparisons to James Baldwin and William Faulkner.
Fifty-five years later, author and journalist Kathryn Schulz happened upon the novel serendipitously and was inspired to write the New Yorkerarticle 'The Lost Giant of American Literature', included as a foreword to this edition.
June, 1957. One afternoon, in the backwater town of Sutton, a young black farmer by the name of Tucker Caliban matter-of-factly throws salt on his field, shoots his horse and livestock, sets fire to his house and departs the southern state. And thereafter, the entire African-American population leave with him.
The reaction that follows is told across a dozen chapters, each from the perspective of a different white townsperson. These are boys, girls, men and women; either liberal or conservative, bigoted or sympathetic - yet all of whom are grappling with this spontaneous, collective rejection of subordination.
A lost masterpiece republished for 2018, A Different Drummer is for readers who have been waiting for the next rediscovered classic.
‘Brilliant . . . The rare first novel that makes future ones seem both inevitable and exciting.’ - Kathryn Schulz, New Yorker
‘Kelley blended fantasy and fact to construct an alternative world whose sweep and complexity drew comparisons to James Joyce and William Faulkner.’ - New York Times
‘[A] masterpiece . . . Kelley wrote intricate novels that identified with the rejection of dominant social orders.’ - Public Books
‘Superbly written . . . a stunning work.’ - Kirkus