The Grey Album by Kevin Young

78%

11 Critic Reviews

“The Grey Album” is angular scholarship for whites, a storying songbook for blacks. Who is the liar, who the thief, who is telling whose history, and who is keeping score? Young forces us to contemplate who controls the music.
-NY Times

Synopsis

*Finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism* *A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Literary Criticism and Essays Pick for Spring 2012* The Grey Album, the first work of prose by the brilliant poet Kevin Young, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize Taking its title from Danger Mouse’s pioneering mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical choruses to illustrate the African American tradition of lying—storytelling, telling tales, fibbing, improvising, “jazzing.” What emerges is a persuasive argument for the many ways that African American culture is American culture, and for the centrality of art—and artfulness—to our daily life. Moving from gospel to soul, funk to freestyle, Young sifts through the shadows, the bootleg, the remix, the grey areas of our history, literature, and music. 
 

About Kevin Young

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Kevin Young is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Ardency and Jelly Roll: A Blues, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is a curator and the Atticus Haygood Professor at Emory University.
 
Published March 13, 2012 by Graywolf Press. 476 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Grey Album
All: 11 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Nov 28 2011

...his explications are so fatiguing that readers will lose patience before Young closes his argument. Young strives for encyclopedic scope, but the narrative is ultimately shapeless.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Shields on Apr 20 2012

“The Grey Album” is angular scholarship for whites, a storying songbook for blacks. Who is the liar, who the thief, who is telling whose history, and who is keeping score? Young forces us to contemplate who controls the music.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Mar 15 2012

This book is the work of a man who, correctly, calls himself “a poet and a collector and now a curator,” one devoted to saving “what we didn’t even know needed saving.”

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Paul Devlin on Apr 01 2012

But one thing is for sure: Young's book is a place to linger and to ponder; don't make it quick.

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City Book Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Jordan Magill on Apr 04 2012

Young has a great deal to say, all said with the sharp eye, good humor, and honesty found in his earlier works.

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Slate

Below average
Reviewed by Wesley Morris on Mar 03 2012

Young is working out a fascinating idea but seems incapable of choosing either poetry or prose as his tool, classical or hip-hop.

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Julian Benbow on Mar 30 2012

At the same time he points out the poetry in the lyrics and draws back to the way black writers were discredited throughout history.

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Watermark Books And Cafe

Excellent
Reviewed by Bruce Jacobs

Young entertains as much as he teaches and broadens our understanding of the unifying threads of the country's cultural traditions.

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ForeWord Reviews

Excellent
Reviewed by Teresa Scollon on Feb 29 2012

This book should be in every public American library and the private collections of readers interested in music, literature, and cultural history.

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The Kenyon Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Weston Cutter on Apr 24 2012

I don’t believe I’m doing a great job articulating the magic of this sort of book, but when you’ve read one, you’ll know.

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Creative Loafing

Below average
Reviewed by Wyatt Williams on Mar 07 2012

The book's "Overture" sets the bar high, perhaps too high, delivering an unabashedly poetic list-like structure that evokes the mesmerizing complexities and contradictory moments of Susan Sontag's "Notes on Camp."

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