Publisher: AK Press
Released: April 11, 2023
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A brilliantly crafted voyage of queer, Black possibility.
“[Alexis] said that what she was currently writing was called afiction, something that was coming through her that was not built as a linear story of generated characters, but as a revealed poetics of gathered and ever-changing spirit.… As she sent me the JesusDevil parables she had written to that point, I read them immediately and asked for more. I felt like I had won a literary lottery for my soul. What I got to read, what you are about to read, is a text that I believe will take its place in Black feminist classic creative literature alongside Toni Cade Bambara’s The Salt Eaters, Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide…When the Rainbow is Enuf, with the spirit mystery of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. And—it is unlike any of these, or anything else I've ever read.” —adrienne maree brown, from the foreword
Evocative and experimental, JesusDevil is a nonlinear tale of black life and spiritual expression. Writing in a style she calls “afiction,” Alexis De Veaux expands and moves beyond traditional narrative, following the adventures of Fhill, a black, queer spirit who has taken human form. Neither male nor female, Fhill moves fluidly and disruptively across concepts of identity, passing through the nine “parables” that comprise this text. Examining aspects of what it means to be black and human—from a nonhuman perspective—Fhill’s liminal nature redefines social and literary categories, exploring social constructions of blackness as well as themes of desire, memory, sex, revenge, and more. A daring new work and crowning achievement from a veteran storyteller.
Praise for JesusDevil:
“In this timely work, Alexis weaves through and beyond the many ways that a parable can live. She speaks of viruses, sheltering in and folks losing their sense of taste in stories where the dead rise, slay, shake themselves loose and rumble us with their sexy. In this afiction, ancient beings from the future take us down and up roads that can only be detailed in a structure that defies naming. Once again, Alexis has written a book of holy queer, new possibilities. Get ready to open, pause, and wonder.”
—Sharon Bridgforth, author of 2003 Lambda Literary Finalist love conjure/blues and recipient of a 2022 Windham Campbell Prize in Drama
“Our ancestral past, present, and future share a concentric relationship in De Veaux’s prophetic, JesusDevil: The Parables. In these after (other) worlds, Black life is autopoietic. Black life recreates, reproduces, and changes shape, sound, and color. JesusDevil arranges and makes meaning and rhythm through erotic exercise and language. These articulations of the sacred are not about orthodox practice; they are “black sermonic text” of the quotidian, an aesthetic of the ordinary. The body, as De Veaux poeticizes, expands language and biology. The body pussys both itself and other, the body is self and other. De Veaux’s nine parables are vestibules of possibility and proof that the imagination is the genesis of promise.”
—Briona S. Jones, editor of 2021 Lambda Literary Award Winner Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought
"In this utterly authentic, deftly crafted, and creatively courageous book, Alexis De Veaux illustrates how the apex of form, style, and matter are more than the tools to document and journey through individual and collective memory; rather, this trinity of craft must, can, has been and will be reimagined in the ritual of storytelling as a portal of constant creation, not simply a tale told simply to arrive someplace and settle. When Fhill, De Veaux’s central character, says she wants “a big life-changing prize or honor that recognizes all we been through over time,” I thought immediately that JesusDevil: The Parables is that prize. It generously invites readers into a dogged literacy, a rigorous reading practice so that we might be fully awash in the complexity of life in spirit, and spirit in life, presented in all its honesty, love, humor, desire, pleasure, pain, and grace. JesusDevil: The Parables is the fulcrum upon which ancestral listening as a technology of writing otherwise, manifests as both possibility and practice. It is a gift to have this book in this time, and now, for all times."
—Eric Darnell Pritchard, author of Fashioning Lives: Black Queers and the Politics of Literacy
Alexis De Veaux is a black queer feminist independent scholar whose internationally known work is published in six languages. She has been publishing fiction, poetry, plays, memoirs, and children’s literature since 1973, and her work is anthologized in numerous collections. De Veaux is the author of Yabo and Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde; and was tenured faculty at the University at Buffalo, Department of Women’s Studies, for more than twenty years, mentoring a new generation of interdisciplinary scholars of black, feminist, and queer studies.