Mumbo Jumbo

By Ishmael Reed

I think I will forget about Mumbo Jumbo. That isn’t to say the novel isn’t well written (it’s done in an exquisitely executed post-modernist style) or interesting (of all the novels I’ve had to read for my contemporary American literature class, this is by far and away the one that I read the quickest and with the most zeal; the choronologically questionable 20’s world-building and strange, colorful characters had me plowing through chapters instead of sleeping), it just wasn’t especially impactful on me because it wasn’t written for me.

I’m not really sure what audience Reed was writing for. Apparently one with a great deal of knowledge about Haitian voodoo, Egyptian mythology, Knight’s Templar history, and Harlem Rennaisance trivia, for without that knowledge a great deal of the novel seems inaccessible. The book was a fun read, but whatever cultural impression it was supposed to make was unfortunately over my head.