“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, The Boston Review

“A little fantasy, a little mystery and a lot hilarious.”Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Smart and funny and sharp…I loved it. His novel does all the things his nonfiction does: it pinions the South and the country, merciless in its attention and its beauty, and amazes and seduces the reader all at once. I recommend and love his work.”Jesmyn Ward, winner of National Book Award for Fiction

“Long Division is one of those books that I picked up and just couldn’t stop reading…powerful, a classic American novel.” —Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation 

“Long Division is a serious book about race and love with a thread of humor running through it, emerging largely from Laymon’s wordplay and the cultural gaps that exist between characters from the past, present and future. With roots in Southern and African American literature, Long Division is an historical novel that touches on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and a work of magical realism in the tradtion of Haruki Murakami … The author’s masterful turn of phrase ( “…all of a sudden the truth kicked off its shoes and started clipping its toenails, just lounging in my fat head.”) and adroit use of dialectic and the authentic language of his characters bring credibility to a clearly incredible story.” – Mark Flanagan, Contemporary Lit 

“Defying a patronizingly racist spelling bee on live television, 14-year-old Citoyen “City” Coldson’s rant goes viral and becomes an embarrassment on a national scale. Sent to stay with family in the small town of Melahatchie, he distracts himself from Internet infamy, redneck racists, and a grandmother who’s not afraid to make him cut her a switch by reading a mysterious book. Titled Long Division, it also follows a 14-year-old named Citoyen Coldson but in 1985. When a missing girl from the neighborhood turns up as a character, real life and fiction begin to blur across time. Laymon’s debut novel is an ambitious mix of contemporary southern gothic with Murakamiesque magical realism. Though forced at moments, 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.” – Booklist

“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

“Long Division is not just a must read. It’s a game changer. Kudos to Kiese Laymon for his vulnerability, wit, and keen eye for the complexities of southern (black) life that too often get flattened for the sake of normalcy. It’s the shot of Southern Comfort that America needs.” Dr. Regina N. Bradley, Redclayscholar.com

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Long Division is, in its gutsy heart, a novel about how a young black boy grapples with coming into manhood in the South. I knew I would love this book from the first chapter when Citoyen “City” Coldson is competing against LaVandar Peeler in a “Can You Use That Word in a Sentence” competition. “The Can You Use That Word in a Sentence contest was started in the spring of 2006 after states in the Deep South, Midwest, and Southwest complained that the Scripps Spelling Bee was geographically biased.” The novel is full of such seductively clever bits.” – Roxanne Gay, The Nation

“In this clever and funny time-travel story set in Mississippi, a sophisticated teen-age boy named City is the main character of both narratives: the story in 1985 and the present-day tale. Laymon weaves together a tender coming-of-age story that explores racial tension, self-perception and self-acceptance, along with honest bonds of family love and friendships.” – Mosaic Magazine

“Laymon’s story manages to travel through time and include a book-within-a-book, all while addressing race, young love, history, marginalization, body-image, Mississippi, and 1964′s Freedom Summer, amongst other things, in 270 pages. But each of these pages is filled with a love of words, a love of black culture and language, a wicked sense of humor, and deep sense of outrage at the racial injustice that still exists throughout this country. I laughed mightily, I cried more than a few tears, and I wished all the while that I could give a copy to every single teenager in America who doesn’t know that there is someone out there writing about their reality, in language made real by its love, wisdom, talent, and rage. And for all of these reasons, I’ve pressed this book into the hands of anyone who would take it and whispered it into the ears of anyone who would listen.” - Lisa Lucas, publisher of Guernica Magazine

“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.” —Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and Slapboxing with Jesus.

“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.” —William Henry Lewis, author of I Got Somebody in Staunton 

“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.” —Tim Strode, author of Ethics of Exile and editor of Longman’s Hip Hop Reader

“Kiese Laymon is an amazing, courageous and brave novelist and essayist…. Laymon fiercely tackles issues of prejudice, adolescence and love with a swagger and confidence all his own. You rarely find novels this honest and engaging. Read this book.”Michigan Quarterly Review

“Laymon’s voice is unique, a rarity in an era during which fiction tends all too often to chase trends…. At times touching, at times poignant, Laymon more than once strikes a beautiful chord in the midst of what often feels gritty and intentionally provocative. Those touching insights make Long Division worth the effort, and readers who stick with the story (stories, actually) will find themselves thinking about City and the people in his life long after they close the book.”Chicago Book Review

“Long Division is a smart and energetic coming-of-age story. It is extremely well done and features one of the most dynamic plot twists that I have read this year.” Cortnee Howard, Best Damn Creative Writing Blog

“Long Division is a bold time-traveling saga unafraid to take risks, recalling the biting ire of a young Percival Everett. It includes daring comparisons between slavery and the Holocaust. It’s one of the few novels I read this year exploring how a community survives on throwaway book culture (“the Bible was better than those other spinach-colored Classic books that spent most of their time flossing with long sentences about pastures and fake sunsets and white dudes named Spence”), even as it stares down the influence of viral videos, teenage sex, and celebrity. In offering two versions of a 14-year-old boy named City Coldson, one in 1985 and one in 2013, Laymon confronts how black identity remains rooted in fragmentation, what he has identified in a separate essay as “the worst of white folks.” Long Division‘s original corporate publisher was too afraid to put out this book. Fortunately, the good folks at Agate Publishing allowed Kiese to be Kiese. Let us hope that more important voices like Laymons’s are allowed to storm the gates in 2014.” — Ed Champion, Reluctant Habits

“Perhaps most striking, and frustrating to City, is the protective behavior that black people assume around white people in all three time periods; the vibrant black community is not particularly interested in desegregation, only justice and respect. 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. City himself recommends Long Division, explaining that it’s short and more of a young adult book for adults.” – School Library Journal

“Kiese Laymon’s new novel, Long Division, is thoroughly with it: It incorporates contemporary pop-culture obsessions like twerking, hashtags, the Harlem Shake, and Kanye West’s outbursts. Yet Laymon’s nods to online virality are countered by heavy references to historic events — the biggest of which, Hurricane Katrina, pulls back the curtain on America’s still-grave race problem.”   East Bay Express

71 Responses to

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  2. Uranigger says:

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  5. Jamal says:

    Why you going and deleting comments that speak the truth Kiese? Ill post it again so your readers can see the fair criticism that you are deleting:

    “Kiese – where is your criticism of Solange when she beats up Jay-Z? You probably just laughed about it didnt you? If the roles were reversed you would be asking for Jay’s head. You are a hypocrite that pretends to know about basketball and tries to pick up on feminist girls. GTFO”

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  7. Nigel says:

    Here is Kiese’s response to another men’s article about false rape accusations:

    “Fam, the problem is that a lot of us read that whole thing. Too many incredible and incredibly courageous black folks have taken on rape culture, black masculinity, the possibility of false accusations for you to write such a wack, tired, lazy ass, destructive article. In a culture where so many black women and girls are getting sexually violated, it takes special kind of cowardice to write an essay about warning black men to pick the right woman so you don’t get accused of rape. Rape culture is real and some lazy writers profit off it everyday.”

    Just proves what whack logic Kiese possesses. He is wiling to tell other writers to shut about a big problem for our black brothers but he can keep going on writing his drivel to please his feminit overlords. Why don’t you do some real journalism and find out what false rape accusation rates are. Some argue as high as 30-40%. You are a coward Kiese trying to silence people you don’t agree with. Plain and simple. Hopefully one day you’re ass will be falsely accused and we’ll see how your tenor changes.

  8. Jamal says:

    Kiese why are you ok redefining the definition of rape? Rape is serious. Girls now days cry rape when someone who they don’t like just bc of his looks, looks at her the wrong way. Better believe if brad Pitt looked at her the same way she’d be perfectly happy, no rape then. I mean if your ugly bald ass looks at a girl probably half of them would cry rape. Because you know, youre ugly. If you’re ok with diluting the meaning then continue stroking your feminist overlords.

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  10. Beatris says:

    Hello, just wanted to mention, I loved this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!

  11. Jamal says:

    I was happy to hear you posted about me! But seriously, why not answer the actual question instead of letting your prissy fan club say stupid things like “I. Just. Cant.” Why do they always do that? So the question is, why do you minimize the meaning of rape? Rape culture? It is a slap in the face of women who were actually raped in the past. Instead you defend women’s rights to cry rape just because they made a decision they regret, sleeping with someone after the consensual act was committed. Then they cry false rape. Why Kiese, Why? Answer it, is this minimizing what rape actually means, or not?

  12. Jamal says:

    Finally some real journalism about black folk instead of the drivel Kiese writes: http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-feed/2014/06/hockey-black-sport.html

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  18. Jamal says:

    You’re a fool Kiese, no doubt no doubt. Why didn’t your ass say anything before brothers keeper? Just want to stand in the limelight. Bunch of bs Kiese. You’re no nuanced writer. You’re an ivory tower trash. We don’t want your kind speaking for us.


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  20. jamal says:

    Jamal is back for some more teach kiese what subtext means. That new york times article you’re about to use as your platform to prove rape is a rampant problem is some of the worst reporting Ive seen, on par with the shit you write. That girl is an obvious slut who got trashed and wanted to find some d*ck, which she did. And then when it was found out what she did, she claimed rape. She didnt want to be thought of as a slut. And how dare she not get any recognition for her victim status. Well the new york times is writing an article, lets just put my picture on the cover, but not give my name. She’s basking in glory now as people like you hold her up as some hero. The vigorous investigative reporting includes a preliminary nursing report, not a final doctor report. All BS, just like you!

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