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faculty: "UvA" and publication year: "2010"
| Author||G. Blaustein|
|Title||Flight to Germany: Paul Beatty, the color line, and the Berlin Wall|
|Faculty||Other than UvA|
|Abstract||This essay is an interpretation of Paul Beatty’s fiction in light of recent commentary on the “end of African American literature.” I consider Beatty’s brand of alternately generative and degenerative satire alongside recent scholarship on African American humor, before turning to his most recent novel, Slumberland (2008), which grafts the familiar arcs of African American history onto Germany before and after reunification. Slumberland centers on a collaboration between two black expatriate musicians of different generations; one a free jazz saxophonist who has defected into East Berlin, the other a disc jockey committed to the proposition that blackness is “passé.” The novel’s central riddle is the analogy it draws between two distant historical fault lines, the color line and the Berlin Wall, the formal end of Jim Crow and the “end of history.” The internationalization of jazz forms another background to this inquiry, and I examine the novel’s portrait of the avant-garde within jazz’s polemical historiography. I conclude with a consideration of the structural affinities between Kenneth Warren’s question, “what was African American literature?” and another: “what was American literature?”|
|Note||Special issue on “African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges”|
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