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Black Jesus and Other Superheroes


Venita Blackburn

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 09/2017
Pages: 168
Subject: Fiction
eBook ISBN: 9781496203984


2018 PEN America Literary Award Winner–Los Angeles  Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes chronicles ordinary people achieving vivid extrasensory perception while under extreme pain. The stories tumble into a universe of the jaded and the hopeful, in which men and women burdened with unwieldy and undesirable superhuman abilities are nonetheless resilient in subtle and startling ways. Venita Blackburn's characters hurl themselves toward the inevitable fates they might rather wish away. Their stories play with magic without the sparkle, glaring at the internal machinations of the human spirit. Fragile symbols for things such as race, sexuality, and love are lifted, decorated, and exposed to scrutiny and awe like so many ruins of our imagination. Through it all Blackburn's characters stumble along currents of language both thoughtful and hilarious.


Venita Blackburn is an English instructor at Arizona State University. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including American Short Fiction, Faultline, the Georgia Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly. She was awarded a Bread Loaf fellowship and a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2014.


"Prepare! This collection bears exuberant testimony to a striking new talent. Witness here the terrific imagination of Venita Blackburn as she lays out and plays out the harm and the succor that come with family. These are short, high-octane stories, funny and dark; open this book and read the story 'Chew' right now! It will lead you to the rest. This is an exhilarating debut."—Ron Carlson, author of Return to Oakpine and A Kind of Flying  

"Electrically alive, funny, real—this is work that just begs to be read aloud and when it is it will fill a room with crackle and ache. What a delight!"—Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake