Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Harlem. District of New York City at the north end of New York City’s Manhattan Island. Harlem has long been known as a center of African American culture, but at the time in which the novel is set, most of New York’s African American residents are living to the south in Lower Manhattan. However, Harlem’s black population is steadily increasing and white residents are moving out. Meanwhile, the influx of newcomers to New York is creating a rich cultural mix, one of the most outstanding manifestations of which is music. Clustered between Harlem’s 125th and 135th Streets and between Lennox and Seventh Avenues are clubs in which New Orleans Dixieland music is evolving into jazz.

*New Orleans

*New Orleans. Louisiana’s largest city, in which the African musical heritage of the region’s former slaves has developed into what becomes known as Dixieland jazz, a uniquely American form based upon the melodic lines and tempos of African American funeral processions and parades. New Orleans is the principal setting of Mumbo Jumbo and an important venue throughout Ishmael Reed’s fiction, poetry, and essays. Reed is concerned with the African American tradition of the supernatural known as “HooDoo,” and New Orleans is its home. There, what appears to white people to be the devil’s work is in effect something else. There and elsewhere HooDoo steps aside a white, Anglo-Saxon, Christian tradition...

(The entire section is 447 words.)