Cover art for podcast The Asterisk*

The Asterisk*

25 EpisodesProduced by Ansfield-Wolf Book AwardsWebsite

The Asterisk* is a production of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards (AWBA), the only juried prize to honor outstanding books that further our understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures. An asterisk is a reference mark, indicating an omission. With that definitio… read more


Ishmael Reed (2022 Lifetime Achievement)

Born 85 years ago in Chattanooga, Tenn., Ishmael Reed won the 2022 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award lifetime achievement prize for his six decades of as a poet, novelist, playwright, lyricist, cartoonist, musician and founder of small presses and publications – doing it all with curiosity, bite, and eventually a global reach.

Celebrated as a teacher and for writing such groundbreaking novels “Mumbo Jumbo,” Reed was recognized with a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 1998. Last year he dropped a jazz solo album, “The Hands of God,” and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent play, “The Conductor,” premiered in New York City this spring.

Colson Whitehead, the 2002 A-W winner for fiction, once said, “Some folks dream about being in Harlem during the 20s…I’m sad I didn’t get to hang out in the late 60s Berkeley with Ishmael Reed.”

Reed joined The Asterisk* via Zoom in August 2023 from his home in Oakland, Calif., with his wife and collaborator Carla Blank – who makes a couple of cameos on the episode. 

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