A versatile, unpredictable, and frequently iconoclastic figure, Ishmael Reed has written ten novels, edited several anthologies, written songs and operas, and recorded some of the poetry from his books of poems. He was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and raised in Buffalo, New York. He enrolled at the State University of New York at Buffalo, but left to do civil rights and community reporting for a Buffalo newspaper. While there he met Malcolm X and decided to move to New York in 1962, where he worked in numerous jobs, joined a writing workshop, and produced his first novel. In 1967, he moved to California, first to Berkeley and then Oakland. In 1976, he was cofounder of the multiethnic Before Columbus Foundation.