At his death in 1994, Ralph Ellison left behind several thousand pages of his unfinished second novel, which he had spent nearly four decades writing. Five years later, Random House published Juneteenth, drawn from the central narrative of Ellison’s epic work in progress. Three Days Before the Shooting . . . gathers in one volume all the parts of that planned opus, including three major sequences never before published. Set in the frame of a deathbed vigil, the story is a gripping multigenerational saga centered on the assassination of a controversial, race-baiting U.S. senator who’s being tended to by an elderly black jazz musician turned preacher. Presented in their unexpurgated, provisional state, the narrative sequences brim with humor and tension, composed in Ellison’s magical jazz-inspired prose style. Beyond its compelling narratives, Three Days Before the Shooting . . . is perhaps most notable for its extraordinary insight into the creative process of one of this country’s greatest writers, and an essential, fascinating piece of Ralph Ellison’s legacy.
“Less a conventional novel than the prose equivalent of a jazz solo, or a series of solos . . . some of [Ellison’s] finest prose.”—Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
“Stirring . . . a deeply complex, even epic, story . . . rendered as majestically as you would expect from Ellison.”—Associated Press
“[This book is] more than a novel. It’s a literary experience.”—Ebony
About Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison was born in Oklahoma City in 1914. He was the author of the novel Invisible Man, a winner of the National Book Award and one of the most important and influential American novels of the twentieth century, as well as numerous essays and short stores. He died in New York City in 1994.