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Long Division
Long Division

"Funny, astute and searching… The author's satirical instincts are excellent. He is also intimately attuned to the confusion of young black Americans who live under the shadow of a history that they only gropingly understand and must try to fill in for themselves." - Wall Street Journal

"Don't miss Kiese Laymon's Long Division. One Mississippi town with two engaging stories in two very different decades. The sharp humor and deep humanity make this debut novel unforgettable."
—Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC

This dazzling debut novel is a Twain-esque exploration of celebrity, authorship, violence, religion, and coming of age in Post-Katrina Mississippi, written in a unique comic voice that's scabrous, lacerating, tender, and wise. The book's two interwoven stories span from the "Freedom Summer" early sixties through the mid-Eighties and up to the present day. In the first, 14-year-old Citoyen "City" Coldson becomes an overnight YouTube celebrity after an onstage meltdown during a nationally televised quiz contest. The next day, he's sent to his grandmother's small coastal community, where a young girl named has Baize Shephard recently disappeared.

Before leaving, City is given a strange book called "Long Division." He discovers that one of the book's main characters is also named City Coldson—but "Long Division" is set in 1985. This City becomes embroiled in a wild adventure that leads him to an orphaned teenage rapper named…Baize Shephard. City's two stories ultimately converge in the mysterious shed behind his grandmother's house, where he finally discovers the key to Baize's disappearance. Long Division is a stunning meta-tale of rebirth, love, and literary redemption.

Kiese Laymon was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College in 1998. He earned an MFA from Indiana University in 2003 and is now an associate professor at Vassar College. He lives in Poughkeepsie, NY. He is also the author of the forthcoming book of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.


Kiese Laymon lecture at NYU
A talk titled "Who We Be: Jeff Chang and Kiese Laymon on the Resurrection of Multiculturalism, the New Demographics, and the Post-Racial"


Title Long Division
Author Kiese Laymon
Audience 01 General / trade
Title First Published 15 June 2013
Format Paperback
Nb of pages 276 p.
ISBN-10 1-932841-72-5
ISBN-13 978-1-932841-72-5
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781932841725
Reference no. 978-1-932841-72-5
Publication Date 15 June 2013
Main content page count 276
Dimensions 6 x 9 in.
Weight 14 oz.
List Price $15.00
Format ePub
Nb of pages
ISBN-10 1-57284-718-2
ISBN-13 978-1-57284-718-7
GTIN13 (EAN13) 9781572847187
Reference no. 978-1-57284-718-7
List Price $9.99


Additional Materials

Long Division Mixtape
From Gina Bradley


Press Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying….Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways. Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Laymon's debut novel is an ambitious mix of contemporary southern gothic with Murakamiesque magical realism. ...the story is rich and labyrinthine, populated with complex characters. Told from the parallel points of view of the two boys named City, the book elegantly showcases Laymon's command of voice and storytelling skill in a tale that is at once dreamlike and concrete, personal and political.
- Greg Baldino

Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and Slapboxing with Jesus
Smart, exciting and energetic...the language romps and roars along through some truly wonderful comic scenes and yet the book doesn't hesitate to comment seriously on questions that matter to human beings everywhere, not just in rural Mississippi.

William Henry Lewis, author of I Got Somebody in Staunton
Laymon is a brilliant young writer...this is a book that sings in the heart but challenges readers to take careful consideration of the power of memory. Like the best of Hurston, Ellison, or Bambara, Laymon's craft flows on frequencies that both honor and extend the traditions those writers established.

Tim Strode, author of Ethics of Exile
The racial/ethical awareness is as complex as Coetzee's, and Laymon is just as good a writer. Laymon takes some real risks. I love the interplay of spirituality and sexuality. Nothing sounds forced, pandering or trendy. City, the husky citizen of the imagination, feels totally singular and totally representative. That's tough to pull off.

LA Review of Books
Nov 20, 2013
With Long Division, Laymon gives us a story that embodies the ellipsis, the idea of an understood but unspoken beginning and ending. Narratives very rarely end; they go through edits and revisions. Characters are added and erased. For a book that begins with a grammar and language competition, Long Division fittingly ends with a statement about language, and that statement is that language, like history, never stops moving forward.
- Jason McCall

East Bay Express
Jul 14, 2013
The inclusion of something as fantastical as time travel in a book that's primarily about race highlights one of the most singular things about Laymon's writing: his ability to contextualize tragedy with humor … You can laugh and cry on the same page — a sometimes-strange sensation that allows Laymon to succeed in his main goal: to keep us from forgetting
- Azeen Ghorayshi

School Library Journal
Jun 18, 2013
"[One of] our best books of the year so far...Layman's debut novel is bursting with colloquial language from three generations of Mississippi African Americans, mixed with gut-piercing truths about a long racial divide that persists to this day."
- Diane Colson Contemporary Literature
Jun 18, 2013
"A fusion of magical realism, Southern literature and time-travel, Kiese Laymon's Long Division is a novel like no other and one of the best you'll read this year."
- Mark Flanagan

Wall Street Journal
"Funny, astute and searching…. The author's satirical instincts are excellent. He is also intimately attuned to the confusion of young black Americans who live under the shadow of a history that they only gropingly understand and must try to fill in for themselves."
- Sam Sacks

Boston Review
Jul 9, 2013
In a multilayered, allusion-packed, time-traveling plot set in Mississippi, Long Division takes us, nesting-doll-style, from 2013 to 1985, 1964, and back, engaging complex questions of race, violence, gender, sexuality, and our relationship to history. More than anything, Laymon shows with surprising lucidity how American racialized inequality is persistent but mutable, that the past is not the present, but isn't, either, entirely past. The book provides a through-line between deceptive "post"-ideologies and the cynical belief that change is always co-optable, never worthy of celebration.
- Lucy McKeon

Reader Comments

Reader comment | Jun 15, 2013, Barbara Carter
The messages of the presenter and the Speaker should be shown in all Schools. The messages reflect our nations inability to talk about race in a intelligent manner. I really enjoyed to conversation.