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BookBrowse Reviews Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford

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Cahokia Jazz

A Novel

by Francis Spufford

Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford X
Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Feb 2024, 464 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Joe Hoeffner
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About this Book



Starting with a grisly rooftop crime scene and racing off from there, Cahokia Jazz takes us on a gripping noir journey through an alternate history Native American city in the 1920s.

Here's the big idea of Francis Spufford's Cahokia Jazz: during the Columbian exchange, European colonists, instead of carrying the strain of smallpox that decimated America's Indigenous population, carried a far less virulent strain, Alastrim, that granted immunity upon recovery. A few centuries later, it's 1922, and there remains a visible, mainstream population of Native Americans across the country, marginalized in some places and prosperous in others. Especially prosperous is the ancient city of Cahokia, a hub of industry and culture on the opposite bank of the Mississippi from a tiny town called St. Louis.

The city is majority Indigenous (or takouma in Anopa, Cahokia's lingua franca), with significant populations of Black and white people (taklousa and takata, respectively). Under the watchful eye of the ceremonial-yet-still-formidable takouma monarch, the Man of the Sun, there ...

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