cover image Relocations of the Spirit: Essays

Relocations of the Spirit: Essays

Leon Forrest. Asphodel Press, $24.95 (397pp) ISBN 978-1-55921-068-3

This rich collection of 27 essays and reviews reflects the deep engagement in culture, especially African American culture, by novelist Forrest, author of the recently heralded Divine Days and chair of the African American Studies department at Northwestern University. An autobiographical piece invokes the varied strands of the complex ``Negro-American culture'' and Forrest's desire to re-create that complexity in fiction. He examines his literary influences, especially Ralph Ellison and William Faulkner, and, in an address to a university convocation, expresses his recognition of the ways blacks and whites have transformed one another. Forrest was one of the non-Muslim editors of the Chicago-based Black Muslim newspaper Muhammad Speaks in the late '60s and early '70s, and several interesting articles here, including a long reflection on Elijah Muhammad, date from that period. Other entries are reprinted from newspapers and literary magazines; some, including a luminous exposition on basketball superstar Michael Jordan, are previously unpublished. Forrest's sinuous and assured style makes this reading consistently interesting. (Feb.)