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Cahokia Jazz

By Francis Spufford
Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

Named a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian and The Financial Times

From “one of the most original minds in contemporary literature” (Nick Hornby) the bestselling and award-winning author of Golden Hill delivers a noirish detective novel set in the 1920s that reimagines how American history would be different if, instead of being decimated, indigenous populations had thrived.


Like his earlier novel Golden Hill, Francis Spufford’s Cahokia Jazz inhabits a different version of America, now through the lens of a subtly altered 1920s—a fully imagined world full of fog, cigarette smoke, dubious motives, danger, dark deeds. And in the main character of Joe Barrow, we have a hero of truly epic proportions, a troubled soul to fall in love with as you are swept along by a propulsive and brilliantly twisty plot.

On a snowy night at the end of winter, Barrow and his partner find a body on the roof of a skyscraper. Down below, streetcar bells ring, factory whistles blow, Americans drink in speakeasies and dance to the tempo of modern times. But this is Cahokia, the ancient indigenous city beside the Mississippi living on as a teeming industrial metropolis, filled with people of every race and creed. Among them, peace holds. Just about. But that corpse on the roof will spark a week of drama in which this altered world will spill its secrets and be brought, against a soundtrack of jazz clarinets and wailing streetcars, either to destruction or rebirth.

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About Francis Spufford

Francis Spufford began as the author of four highly praised books of nonfiction. His first book, I May Be Some Time, won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 1996, the Banff Mountain Book Prize, and a Somerset Maugham Award. It was followed by The Child That Books BuiltBackroom Boys, and most recently, Unapologetic. But with Red Plenty in 2012 he switched to the novel. Golden Hill won multiple literary prizes on both sides of the Atlantic; Light Perpetual was longlisted for the Booker Prize. In England he is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society. He teaches writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

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