Fr. 22.90

Dirty Bird Blues

English · Paperback

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A quietly influential force in African American literature and art, Clarence Major makes his Penguin Classics debut with the twenty-fifth-anniversary edition of Dirty Bird Blues
The PRH Audio book of Dirty Bird Blues by Clarence Major won a 2022 EARPHONE AWARD. Narrated by Dion Graham.
A Penguin Classic

Set in post-World War II Chicago and Omaha, the novel features Manfred Banks, a young, harmonica-blowing blues singer who is always writing music in his head. Torn between his friendships with fellow musicians and nightclub life and his responsibilities to his wife and child, along with the pressures of dealing with a racist America that assaults him at every turn, Manfred seeks easy answers in "Dirty Bird" (Old Crow whiskey) and in moving on. He moves to Omaha with hopes of better opportunities as a blue-collar worker, but the blues in his soul and the dreams in his mind keep bringing him back to face himself. After a nightmarish descent into his own depths, Manfred emerges with fresh awareness and possibility. Through Manfred, we witness and experience the process by which modern American English has been vitalized and strengthened by the poetry and the poignancy of the African-American experience. As Manfred struggles with the oppressive constraints of society and his private turmoil, his rich inner voice resonates with the blues.

About the author

Clarence Major (b.1936) is an American writer and painter. He is the author of eleven novels and fifteen collections of poetry. He was awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Fine Arts by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the 2016 PEN Oakland/Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Award, a Fulbright Fellowship and a National Council on the Arts Fellowship. He is also a distinguished professor emeritus of twentieth-century American literature at the University of California at Davis.


A pulsating, powerful tale of the blues, from one of the great American writers of the twentieth century

It is Chicago in the 1950s and Manfred Banks has the Dirty Bird Blues. A musician and a blue-collar worker, he feels hard the tug of his two responsibilities: those to his wife and child, and those to rhythm and rhyme, to the lyrics that groove a hollow in his mind. Beneath both is the awful grinding racism Manfred meets on streets each day; that which plucks opportunity from his grasp; that which keeps him wandering in search of fresh starts. And so, in want of easy answers, he turns to the 'Dirty Bird': Old Crow brand whiskey.

One of Clarence Major's most influential novels, Dirty Bird Blues is both an extraordinary portrayal of twentieth-century Black reality, and an ode to the richness and power of the blues.


The book s folkloric street slang is pitch-perfect, and Major deserves much wider recognition for his career as a novelist, painter, poet and explainer of the Black experience in America. This is ultrarealism at its finest.
Douglas Brinkley, New York Times Book Review

Product details

Authors John Beckman, Yusef Komunyakaa, Clarence Major
Assisted by Yusef Komunyakaa (Introduction)
Publisher Penguin Books Uk
Languages English
Product format Paperback
Released 27.10.2022
EAN 9780143136590
ISBN 978-0-14-313659-0
No. of pages 384
Dimensions 129 mm x 197 mm x 16 mm
Series Penguin Classics
Subjects Fiction > Narrative literature

Blues, Chicago, MUSIC / Genres & Styles / Blues, omaha, Relating to African American people, c 1940 to c 1949, FICTION / African American & Black / General

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