Shaun Randol

Shaun Randol founded The Mantle in 2009. Today he is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher. You can email him at shaun [at] Shaun is the co-editor of Gambit: Newer African Writing. He is also a member of the PEN American Center and serves on the boards of Nomadic Press, the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, and Africa Book Link.


November 20, 2012

"Sinner Man" is a traditional, American spiritual. At least one blogger claims the song has roots in the Appalachians, by way of Scotland, though I can find no evidence to back that up. The earliest recording we have is from 1956. In the subsequent fifty-plus years, the song has been covered, deconstructed, reconfigured, and re-interpreted by musicians around the world.

November 8, 2012

In the opening scene of Children in Reindeer Woods, Rafael and some fellow soldiers come across a farm. The soldiers murder its civilian occupants (men, women, and children) in cold blood. We learn nothing more of the newly deceased. Rafael then turns on his cohorts, dispatching them with ease and without remorse. This is the last killing he will do, he hopes. Rafael is tired of war.

October 29, 2012

The short-run production of The Builder Association's "House / Divided," directed by Marianne Weems, opens with a narrator reading the captivating introduction to John Steinbeck's masterpiece, the Grapes of Wrath:

September 19, 2012

I'm enthralled by the music video for Damian Marley and Skrillex's song "Make it Bun Dem" and the many artistic and political elements at play. Hat tip to Carol Ann for bringing the video to my attention, and then dissecting the piece with me over a Moroccan-French brunch one Saturday.

July 17, 2012

In the past sixteen years, over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. That's one suicide every thirty minutes. By the time I finished watching a documentary about the sad epidemic, three more farmers had taken their lives.

June 12, 2012

The global economy imploded in 2007-08 and has yet to recover. Indeed, capitalism and free-market neoliberalism have hardly been on shakier ground. In Spain, Greece, and Italy citizens fed up with status-quo, market-first policies have inspired demonstrations across Europe, the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.

June 5, 2012

The actor, artist, and activist Kyaw Thu made a splash in New York City over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Curated by Burmese artist collective [email protected] (dear friends of The Mantle), "First Break Out," a solo show, featured a wide variety of Thu's work, including still lifes, studies, and works trumpeting messages of peace.

May 31, 2012

In yet another stellar issue of World Literature Today (May/June 2012), the dastardly practice of censorship of literature and writers in general was given due attention.

May 17, 2012

I can't remember how the conversation began, but it was at least six months ago when I shared The Muppet Show's "Mahna Mahna and the Snowths" (November 30, 1969) video with a good friend of mine. I found the tune to be catchy and the video to be amusing. It's hard not to sing along and let out a chuckle while watching the skit: 


But EG, my friend, surprised me with his response. He saw something in the clip that I hadn't even considered: a metaphor for the battle between conformity and individuality.

March 9, 2012

On March 6, Warscapes magazine—a welcome newcomer to the international arts, politics, and literary scene edited by the passionate Bhakti Shringarpure—hosted “An Evening of Poetry from the Horn of Africa,” a night I won’t soon forget.