Song of the Shank is a novel loosely based on the life of Thomas Greene Wiggins, a 19th-century African American piano virtuoso and composer who performed under the stage name Blind Tom. Told through the eyes and minds of people who try to manipulate or use Tom for one reason or another, the novel is an imaginative meditation on issues of blindness, race, and the role and importance of art and critical thinking in our world today.
Jeffery Renard Allen is a remarkably eloquent writer and his novel Blind Tom involves vivid characters in the chaotic times surrounding the Civil War. I, however, found his book hard to read because he didn't use quotation marks. But Kevin Free's reading was so well done, with excellent voices for the many colorful characters. This was a great partnership of a great writer and a great reader.