American Histories

John Edgar Wideman

American Histories by John Edgar Wideman (Hardback ISBN 9781786892027) book cover

Available as Hardback, eBook

The new story collection from John Edgar Wideman acclaimed author of Philadelphia Fire and Brothers and Keepers, and winner of the 2017 Prix Femina Étranger exploring subjects from the imagined to the historical and personal

In this new short story collection, John Edgar Wideman blends the historical and the imaginary, the personal and the political, to invent complex, charged stories about love, death and struggle. With a cast of real and fictional characters as diverse as Frederick Douglass, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Wideman’s own family, it is a journey through the soul of America.In ‘JB & FD’ Wideman imagines conversations between white anti-slavery crusader John Brown and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In ‘Williamsburg Bridge’ a man contemplates his life as he sits on the edge of the bridge, meaning to jump. In ‘Maps and Ledgers’ a brother and sister ponder their father’s killing of another man.In these and the other stories in this collection, Wideman navigates an extraordinary range of subject and tone. He delivers individual narratives both emotionally precise and intellectually stimulating, and an extended meditation on family, history and loss. American Histories demonstrates a master at his absolute best.


“Wideman is a writer who excels at dramatising African American sensibilities and this collection typically addresses issues of race, injustice and inequality with power and potency … This is published alongside Wideman’s earlier novels and is a gem for anyone yet to discover his work”
Anita Sethi
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“With the scrupulous intelligence and meditative intensity that define all this author’s work, the stories move from subjects like the Civil War and Nat Turner’s rebellion to Mr. Wideman’s family’s tribulations, the two threads twining so intricately that they’re impossible to separate … John Edgar Wideman’s stories show he is a master of modernist collage”
wall Street Journal

“Wherever we’re going with him, we’re going to engage with America’s unhealed wounds of slavery and racism … Wideman’s stories range widely over experiences from slavery to the present day … All are illumined by a searching intelligence and a willingness to test the boundaries of the short story form”
new York Times

“Wideman is one of the nation’s literary treasures, and his contribution is a dazzling, delirious achievement: as his narrator, perched on edge of the Williamsburg Bridge, prepares for suicide, he delivers a cri de coeur that ranges from Sonny Rollins to the Yalu River and becomes nothing less than a meditation on the extraordinary resilience of ordinary black lives in the American Century”
Junot Díaz

“Race and its reverberations are at the core of this slim, powerful volume, a blend of fiction, memoir, and reimagined history, in which the boundaries between those forms are murky and ever shifting … Lucid and strong … Arresting”
boston Globe


John Edgar Wideman

John Edgar Wideman’s books include Writing to Save a Life, Philadelphia Fire, Brothers and Keepers, Fatheralong, Hoop Roots and Sent for You Yesterday. He is a MacArthur Fellow and has won the PEN/Faulkner Award twice and has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award. In 2017, Wideman won the the Prix Femina Étranger for Writing to Save a Life. He divides his time between New York and France.