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Posted April 16, 2002
¿This might be the best fictional work about jazz since James Baldwin's beautiful and soulful `Sonny¿s Blues.¿ Definitely a writer to watch.¿ LIBRARY JOURNAL ¿A rushing torrent of swirling, coruscating language, jumpy with jazz-influenced rhythms and shimmering with tumbling shards of urban imagery. There's no doubt that, like Latif, Mansbach's got the goods. Shackling Water is a workout, but an exhilarating one.¿ THE BOSTON GLOBE ¿[Mansbach is] a veritable multi-culti code-switching genius... the novel forges ahead to a powerfully humble conclusion that testifies to the authentic impulses behind creation. ...A remarkable achievement.¿ THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN ¿Mansbach convincingly captures the rhythms and cadences of black language and the inner monologues that play out while artists are on stage. ...the questions that [Shackling Water¿s] authorship raises -- does this white boy know what he¿s talking about? -- are forgotten.¿ THE WASHINGTON POST ¿Mansbach sparkles throughout, finding just the right voice to explain the jazz/hip-hop transition of the last thirty years and doing justice to all of it. As auspicious a debut as Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist... even those who don't know a whole note from a grace note will revel in glorious song and history both. A wonderful accomplishment.¿ KIRKUS REVIEWS ¿Some of the most original and moving writing out there.¿ THE BOSTON HERALD ¿Mansbach displays a gift for fusing the improvised energy of streetspeak to that of spiraling jazz riffs.¿ THE NEW YORK TIMES ¿Mansbach... writes with authority, precision, and verve of Latif's initiation and the passionate music he loves, and readers who share Mansbach's ardor for the sky-scraping, core-of-the-earth-mining jazz of Coltrane and Miles Davis will be enthralled by his ravishing musical descriptions. Mansbach illuminates music's spiritual dimension and plumbs the sorrow and rage that is the legacy of every black artist. [A] bold, resonant, portrait of the artist as a young man... Mansbach's eloquence and energy are unwavering and his music is divine.¿ BOOKLIST ¿A stunningly beautiful, heart-aching debut... a brilliantly written, risk-taking novel that lands gracefully on its feet... Shackling Water may be the finest novel written this year and half of the next one.¿ African-American Literature Book Club ¿Words tumble off the pages of Shackling Water and bump against your brain. Strung out and strung together, they pull you into passages so rhythmic that for the first few pages you want to stop the meaning frrom leaking through. You want only to say the words out loud, hear the syllables roll off your lips, let them echo in the quiet and then, electrified, catch them again as they snap back through your ears. First time novelist Mansbach¿s love of language and music mixes the two into something both ancient and immediate -- a story and a song, a new riff on the old tale of a young man and his journey into jazz.¿ BOSTON MAGAZINEWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.