The Grey Album Goes Platinum

Cover of The Grey Album

The black imagination conducts its escape by way of underground railroads of meaning—a practice we could call the black art of escape. —Kevin Young, The Grey Album

In his 2012 book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, Emory’s Kevin Young explores the African American penchant for “storying”—an artful transformation, or wholesale manufacture, of truth that finds expression across cultural forms, particularly music and poetry. Widely noted for its grand scope and deft critical maneuvers among genres and generations, the nonfiction book has won the 2013 PEN Open Book Award, given “for an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2012.”

Judges called The Grey Album, published by Graywolf Press, “an ambitious, exhilarating, impassioned work of black literary and cultural criticism, unlike any other—an inspired, sweeping book that deserves to be savored and celebrated.” The PEN Literary Awards are among the country’s most prestigious, given for more than fifty years by the PEN American Center, a leading literary and human rights organization.

Earlier this year, The Grey Album was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and was named a New York Times Notable Book for 2012.

Young, Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of literary collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory, is the author of seven books of poetry and editor of seven other collections, including Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (2011), winner of an American Book Award.

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