Born in New York in 1937, William Melvin Kelley was an African-American writer known for his satirical explorations of race relations in America. He was just twenty-four years old when his debut novel, A Different Drummer, was first published in 1962, earning him critical comparisons to William Faulkner and James Baldwin. Considered part of the Black Arts Movement, Kelley was in 2014 officially credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with coining the political term 'woke,' in a 1962 New York Times article entitled 'If You're Woke You Dig It'. He died in February of 2017, aged 79.
Simple, timeless, mythic . . . an astounding achievement . . . still relevant and powerful today. * Sunday Times * Superbly written . . . a stunning work. * Kirkus * [A] masterpiece . . . Kelley wrote intricate novels that identified with the rejection of dominant social orders. * Public Books * 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 * Brilliant . . . The rare first novel that makes future ones seem both inevitable and exciting. * New Yorker *