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Press and Reviews

“Mark Binelli is the only contemporary writer with enough courage, imagination, and sheer brilliance to wrestle the story of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins out of myth and legend and into a novel. The portrait of Hawkins that emerges is subtle, profound, and heroic, and, like all great fiction, utterly indelible.”

—Dinaw Mengestu, author of All Our Names

“Mark Binelli makes this novel play like a jukebox loaded up with the B-sides of American history. Brilliantly mixing up the facts and the myths into an audaciously original, bleakly comic tale, he turns one old blues song into a casket big enough to contain all the country’s most bizarre nightmares.”

—Rob Sheffield, author of Love is a Mix Tape

“Mark Binelli’s stylish new novel tells the life of the singer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“I Put a Spell on You”) from a variety of quick-cut angles... [His] magpie approach is deeply rewarding. By the end, this series of brief fictionalized impressions feels as true to life, or more so, than a conventional biography might. Mr. Binelli’s previous books were a novel that imagined the anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti as a vaudeville comedy duo and a nonfiction account of Detroit’s financial struggles and some of the city’s eccentric residents. This latest continues a formidable and distinctive career.”

—John Williams, The New York Times


“Mark Binelli, like Screamin’ Jay himself, shouts, shimmies, and self-reinvents on the fly, with no concern for any genre besides ‘classic.’ Few books about music have had so much prose-music. Few books about race have had so much nose-jewelry and sex in phone booths. Read and be moved, grooved, baited, and blued.”

—Joshua Cohen, author of Book of Numbers

“Mark Binelli conjures the theatrical props and mortal remains of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and brings the master out of the coffin alive and screaming.”

—Gary Panter, artist

“[U]nexpectedly strange, haunting, funny and magical... “Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits” is a spectacular exploration into the ways one black musician negotiated racial and gender expectations onstage. It is a novel about the real implications of a wholly unreal black performer telling musical stories to white listeners with outrageous appetites for black-American suffering and black-American virtuosity.”

—Kiese Laymon, The New York Times




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