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A Different Drummer

William Melvin Kelley

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

A lost masterpiece, following in the footsteps of SUITE FRANCAISE, ALONE IN BERLIN and STONER.

'More than lives up to the hype' Observer
'Set to become a publishing sensation' Kirsty Lang, BBC Front Row
'An astounding achievement' Sunday Times
'The lost giant of American literature' New Yorker

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.

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 Yorker article 'The Lost Giant of American Literature', included as a foreword to this edition.

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Praise for A Different Drummer

  • More than lives up to the hype . . . what a gift to literature that we have rediscovered it. - Observer

  • Simple, timeless, mythic . . . an astounding achievement . . . still relevant and powerful today. - Sunday Times

  • Wonderful . . . full of dazzling moments of social and psychological observation that jump from the page as if they were written yesterday. - Metro

  • Superb . . . The comparisons of his debut to the books of James Baldwin and Faulkner are justified. - Irish Times

  • Set to become a publishing sensation. - BBC Front Row

  • [A] masterpiece . . . Kelley wrote intricate novels that identified with the rejection of dominant social orders. - Public Books

  • A Different Drummer is a revelation. A story so vividly alive I closed the book a different person from the one who opened it. A vital classic of literature.

  • 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

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