The Gospel Singer (Paperback)

The Gospel Singer By Harry Crews, Kevin Wilson (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Harry Crews, Kevin Wilson (Foreword by)
List Price: $18.00
Our Price: $17.00
(Save: $1.00 6%)
On Our Shelves Now
1 on hand, as of May 18 4:50am
1 on hand, as of May 18 1:35am
1 on hand, as of May 18 4:35am
Downtown Brooklyn
1 on hand, as of May 18 5:15am
1 on hand, as of May 18 4:40am


“Harry Crews is magnificently twisted and brutally funny.” - Carl Hiaasen

A Penguin Classic

Golden-haired, with the voice of an angel and a reputation as a healer, the Gospel Singer appeared on the cover of LIFE and brought thousands to their knees in Carnegie Hall. But for all his fame, he is a man in mortal torment that drives him back to his obscure and wretched hometown of Enigma, Georgia. But by the time his Cadillac pulls into Enigma, he discovers an old friend is being held at tenuous bay from a lynch mob. As Harry Crews’s first novel unfolds, the Gospel Singer is forced to give way to his torment, and in doing so he reveals to the believers who have gathered at his feet just how little he is God’s man, and how much he has contributed to the corruption of each of them.

About the Author

Harry Crews was born in 1935 at the end of a dirt road in Alma, Bacon County, Georgia, a rural community near the Okefenokee Swamp. His father, a tenant farmer, died before Harry was two years old. A mysterious childhood paralysis; a horrible scalding accident; his mother’s second, turbulent marriage and divorce from a drunken uncle whom Crews had been led to believe was his natural father; and a move to Jacksonville, Florida, for his mother to find factory work were experiences that would feed his desire to imagine and, ultimately, to write. As a teen, Crews served a tour in the Marine Corps. On the GI Bill, Crews attended the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in literature followed by a master’s in education, with which he taught high-school and junior-college English. A protégé of Southern novelist Andrew Lytle, Crews published his first short story in the Sewanee Review in 1962. He published his first novel, The Gospel Singer, in 1968. Its publication earned Crews a new teaching job at the University of Florida and paved the way for the publication of seven more novels over the next eight years, including Naked in Garden Hills (1969); Car (1972); The Hawk Is Dying (1973), which was adapted into a film released in 2006; The Gypsy’s Curse (1974); and the widely acclaimed A Feast of Snakes (1976). Crews’s reputation as a bold and daring new voice in Southern writing grew during this time. In the 1970s, he wrote for popular magazines, including a monthly column for Esquire and essays for Playboy, and screenplays. In 1978, Crews’s memoir of his youth, A Childhood: The Biography of a Place, was published to enduring acclaim. Two compilations of his nonfiction works, Blood and Grits and Florida Frenzy, were issued in 1979 and 1982, respectively. A decade of drug and alcohol abuse and creative lapses ended in 1987 with the publication of his ninth novel, All We Need of Hell. Crews retired from the classroom after teaching for thirty years at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Crews, who died in 2012 at age seventy-six, was a prominent writer in the literary genre known as Dirty South or Grit Lit, notable for its bizarre characters, grotesque violence, and satirical surrealism. His artistic forebears include William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Erskine Caldwell, but Crews remade Southern gothic in his own rough-hewn image in eighteen memorable novels, including Karate Is a Thing of the Spirit (1971), The Knockout Artist (1988), and Body (1990), dozens of riveting nonfiction pieces, and one of the finest memoirs in American literature. In 2002, the University of Georgia Libraries inducted Harry Crews into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.
Kevin Wilson (foreword) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang; Perfect Little World; and, most recently, Nothing to See Here, which was named a 2019 Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, People, and Entertainment Weekly.

Praise For…

“Flannery O’Connor on steroids.”
—John Williams, GQ
“I don’t know where [Harry Crews’s] narrative magic comes from, but it is firmly there.”
—Joseph Heller

“…a bona fide Southern writer in the vein of Flannery O’Connor, whose unvarnished language and absurdist take on life among the lower rungs of the region’s social ladder [is] shot through with a rough-and-tumble kind of empathy….it was with great pleasure that I spent last weekend reading The Gospel Singer,… a darkly funny tragedy…. The world he writes about is violent and ruthless….But there’s a point to Crews’ madness, and always present is a throughline of empathy…”
Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Critics and awards anoint some authors as legends. Others depend on word-of-mouth and prose that stands the test of time….There is nothing folksy, never mind pastoral or genteel, about Crews. With caustic and fabulist writing, he exhumed the ghosts of America’s original sin…..Crews captured the raw essence of humanity in both fiction and nonfiction. Side by side, these reissues form the complete picture of an imperfect man who charged hard into extremes to escape his cultural inheritance.”
—Lauren Leblanc, Los Angeles Times
Product Details
ISBN: 9780143135098
ISBN-10: 0143135090
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: March 15th, 2022
Pages: 224
Language: English