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Blackland, by Richard A. Jones

When Jason Williams, an alienated and unemployed artist and poet, plots with his “homies” to construct an African American hydrogen bomb—Boom Shakalaka!!!—he has no idea this desperate quest for dignity will propel him to a new world. Opening doorways to the “many rooms in [his] father’s house” leads him into the multiverse’s mansion of 10^500 rooms. Jason finds himself riding the rails of a ridiculously sublime “underground railroad” to the utopias of stars and galaxies within each of us.

Blackland is an outrageous postmodern novel, seen through prisms of philosophy, physics, and poetry. As he swaggers and staggers through “the great conversation,” Jason tags “Phew Yawk Shitty” with the graffiti of urban angst and humor, while “joning” with hood-rat desperation and bluster on the perversities of Black lives in America. Yet, could it be the banter disguises his grander ambitions to relocate the entire population of the earth to the Andromeda galaxy? In his ongoing search for “the best of all possible worlds,” he awakens on a hay wagon in Blackland, a world where white people have opted for virtual reality and left the Earth to the mud people.

Blackland’s satirical humor provokes both belly laughs and moral outrage. As political satire, Blackland questions the contemporary racialized imaginaries that create our shared futures. In the traditions of writers like Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium, Jorge Luis Borges’s Labyrinths, and Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Jason lives in a library of books As his adventure evolves, he reads and writes himself not only into a world, but also into the multiverse, where he is everywhere at once. Blackland is an exuberant dreamscape, a paradoxical novel inscribed within itself that will fuel your imagination and, as it draws you on its fantastical journey, stoke your outrage, and drive you to fits of laughter.

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