RaveBooklistThe most horrific tales often inspire the most exquisite language. How else to explain The Prophets, a first novel of slavery’s brutality, racism, misogyny, and homophobia recounted in prose of limpid beauty? ... Jones conveys powerful truths with well-chosen words in spare prose ... A masterfully told story that will haunt readers from beginning to end.
PositiveBooklist... a moving and impassioned account of her in-the-trenches experience as a social justice warrior ... While most of her examples are drawn from her work with BLM, Garza’s advice is broadly relevant ... A book that could not be timelier.
Les Payne and Tamara Payne
RaveBooklistAs renewed calls for Black liberation fill the streets and the airwaves, what better time to review the legacy of one of the most influential proponents of Black independence, Malcolm X ... monumental ... Payne’s Malcolm is less a revolutionary than part of a continuum of Black struggle.
RaveBooklist... a bold, memoiristic tale ... an array of fascinating characters with different insights into the American character ... Money, and the debasement of other values, is a defining element of Akhtar’s relationship with his writing and his father, while the crude racism unleashed by 9/11 prods them both to question whether America can ever truly be their home.
RaveBooklistRankine presents another arresting blend of essays and images, perfectly attuned to this long-overdue moment of racial reckoning. In language all the more devastating for its simplicity, Rankine analyzes the overwhelming power of whiteness in everyday interactions ... Rankine once again opens a literary window into the Black experience, for those willing to look in.
RaveBooklistEverett...the author of biting satirical comedy, dark thrillers, and literary reworkings of Greek myth, gifts us with his most heartfelt, nakedly emotional story yet ... Everett has created an exquisite portrait of grief and one man’s search for meaning in the face of unimaginable loss.
RaveBooklistZapata spins an iridescent web of grief, loss, and memory ... The connection between Saul and Maxwell, and the role Adana’s novel plays in both their lives constitute an enchanting blend of history, science, and fairy tale. Zapata’s unforgettable characters lose loved ones, countries, and even identities, but they preserve \'lost worlds\' in the stories they tell and by \'reading the night sky ... A lush, spellbinding tale.
MixedBooklistKatz provides a thorough overview of the origins of cultural exchange, dating back to anti-Nazi and anti-Communism efforts, when clueless, racist bureaucrats dismissed the value of jazz, which young people around the world adored, in favor of classical music. Likewise, Katz faced an uphill battle to get hip-hop accepted as a medium for a state-department program then had to explain that \'Get Hip USA!\' was not likely to win over skeptical youth. While Katz addresses the inherent contradiction in trotting out marginalized cultural groups to demonstrate the superiority of American values, neither he nor the majority of the artists interviewed fully acknowledges the paradox.
PositiveBooklistColvin depicts the heartbreaking neglect and ultimate destruction of Africaville by white Canadian governments while also dramatizing the resilience that enabled its residents to survive.
Kerri K. Greenidge
RaveBooklistRejecting both the accommodationist politics of Booker T. Washington and the \'talented tenth\' elitism of W. E. B. Dubois, and challenging the complacency of northern liberals who preferred to see racism as a uniquely southern problem, Trotter resists easy categorization. Yet as Greenidge argues in her beautifully realized biography, Trotter’s theory and practice of Black liberation anticipated Black Lives Matter and the contemporary focus on institutional rather than individual racism. Essential reading for our times.
PositiveBooklistWith disarming (and occasionally disturbing) candor, Vernon recounts her struggles with sexism, Islamophobia, and racism in the U.S., the fashion world, and the Muslim community, reserving much of her frustration for the fat-shaming culture which permeates all three. Vernon’s determined advocacy for body positivity as a feminist and mental health issue, and her painful journey to self-acceptance, are moving and powerful, forcing readers to examine their own preconceptions about beauty standards and health.
RaveBooklistForbes’ novel, rich in metaphors and biblical and fairy-tale allusions, explores the cyclical nature of birth and death, and the overwhelming and terrifying power of love. It is also a forceful critique of colonialism ... A fascinating post-colonial blend of romance, social history, and myth.
RaveBooklistRice’s behind-the-scenes take on major foreign policy challenges are fascinating ... While she prefers not to dwell on the racism and sexism of Washington, her anger comes through loud and clear. Although Rice is frank about the toll her career took on her family, she is able to look back on her experiences with pride, gratitude, and bracing realism.
RaveBooklistBuckhanon captures Autumn’s frustration at the undervaluing of black women, accompanied by the creeping gentrification of her Harlem neighborhood ... Yet it is Buckhanon’s elegant images of grief that most captivate ... Devastating.
Rion Amilcar Scott
PositiveBooklistReminiscent of classic isolated-world fantasies like The Martian Chronicles (1950) ... Scott’s imagery and unique voice blend horror, satire, and magical realism into an intoxicating brew.
Sarah M. Broom
PositiveBooklistBroom is blunt about the callous incompetence Katrina survivors faced ... A moving tribute to family and a powerful indictment of societal indifference.
PositiveBooklistMaraniss paints an affecting if somewhat scattershot portrait ... The younger Maraniss’ affection and admiration for his father are palpable, though tinged with queasiness over what he perceives as naïveté regarding the Soviet system ... Maraniss falls into a common trap of family biographers. He both over- and underestimates his father. It would also have been good to learn more about how Maraniss’ mother coped with raising a family despite constant upheaval. Overall, this is a beautifully realized account of an ordinary family in extraordinary circumstances and of how easily \'normal\' life can be disrupted by a powerful megalomaniac with a dangerous political agenda.
PositiveBooklistArchaeology is the science of interpreting a distant past without being misled by one’s familiar present. Hessler... conveys the near-impossibility of this challenge ... Hessler’s inability to transcend his cultural biases and his condescending reduction of Egyptians in amusing anecdotes is grating, yet he has the self-awareness to recognize the West’s childlike romanticization of Egypt in himself and his Western colleagues.
RaveBooklist\"A passionate, wryly bittersweet tribute to Black life in majority-white Pittsburgh ... [Young\'s] barbed riffs on gentrification, Black barber shops, basketball, appropriate use of the word \'nigga,\' and the obtuseness of white privilege are sharply observed ... A must read.\
MixedBooklistLess a history than an account of [Jones\'] own tortured journey toward racial awareness. We could happily do without self-absorbed reflections ... Yet Jones, with journalist Truman, manages a deeply affecting portrait of the devastation wrought by the 16th Street Church bombing and the enduring blight and bitterness it left in the black community ... A decent account of a key moment in the antisegregation movement told primarily from the white perspective.
PositiveBooklistIllustrated with startling historical photographs, Hartman’s blend of narrative and imagined internal monologue uncovers a world of unjust imprisonment, child prostitution, and race riots but also lively dance halls and chorus lines and the daring transformation of tenement hallways into \'places of assembly\' and rooftops into \'stretches of urban beach\' ... Hartman has created an insightful feminist reassessment of a key era in American history.
PositiveBooklistThis new collection highlights [Collins\'] strengths as dramatist, screenwriter, and short-story creator ... Collins limns incisive portraits of artistic, intellectual Black women stretched to their limits that glimmer against a background of racism, sexism, and just plain life. A timely reclamation of a remarkable voice.
RaveBooklistWith a lyricism that sings, swings, and stings, poet and writer Hill reflects on black women who resisted violent racism and misogyny, ranging from the notable and notorious (Fannie Lou Hamer, Eartha Kitt, Ida B. Wells, Joanne Little) to lesser-known, no-less-heroic women. In this distinctive inquiry in verse, Hill refuses to make them mere victims.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin
RaveBooklistA harsh indictment of a society that views blackness as a disorder and that forces black men to choose between self-respect and survival ... Brilliant and devastating.
PositiveBooklist\"James’ tale digs its hooks in and never lets go, rather like the claws of the flesh-eating Zogbanu trolls, or the teeth of a vicious ghommid. Yet for all the fantasy and action, James never loses sight of the human story as his hero ... Gender-bending romance, fantastical adventure, and an Afrocentric setting make for an inventive and engaging read.\
Marcello Di Cintio
RaveBooklistOne of the great tragedies of Palestine is how little most outsiders know of everyday Palestinians. Journalist Di Cintio narrows this gap by recounting his nearly 20 years of visits to the West Bank and Gaza, weaving conversations around the writings of Palestine’s many literary figures ... A timely and exquisite book.
Stephen L. Carter
PositiveBooklist\"...Eunice Carter, best-selling crime-writer Stephen L. Carter’s grandmother, was a leading figure in one of a tiny handful of female African American lawyers, she was connected professionally and socially with the most influential people of the day. As a member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP, and an early observer at the United Nations, she, along with her family, were closely involved in key issues and political events ... Carter’s millions of readers will be curious about his return to nonfiction to share a slice of his family’s history within the larger national picture.
John Julius Norwich
MixedBooklist\"...Norwich’s quip-filled \'political history\' is a mad dash through France’s greatest hits: Charlemagne, Joan of Arc, Francis I, Henri IV, a succession of kings named Louis, the Revolution, Napoleon, Dreyfus, the Somme, Vichy, de Gaulle, and the Resistance ... Although the epilogue’s borderline racist perspective on colonialism gives one pause, as do admiring asides about royal mistresses, which, as with such Gallic delicacies as snails, may leave one feeling queasy, there is much here to learn and enjoy.
Kwame Anthony Appiah
PositiveBooklist\"Appiah—who could variously be described as biracial, Ghanaian British, an Asante, a Londoner, and a gay cis man—is perfectly positioned to explore the various meanings and missteps involved in charting human identity ... Perhaps the most startling of Appiah’s claims is that cultural differences are a response to the need for a distinguishing identity. Herein lies the paradox of cultural identity: the human need to belong will always require an outsider group to reject.\
Zachary R Wood
RaveBooklist Online...The child of a mentally unstable mother and a hardworking but overwhelmed father, Wood writes movingly about the debilitating effects of racism and poverty, including vermin-filled housing, haphazard dental care, and a constant need to disprove stereotypes. To cope as a scholarship student at elite private schools, Wood drove himself to the point of hospitalization for exhaustion. Yet he never felt he belonged in the world of wealthy white friends, whose patronizing parents encouraged him to \'impersonate a thug\' for their entertainment. Reasoned, well-informed argument became his most effective weapon, a gift he insisted on sharing with fellow students, whatever the cost. A singular voice that, as Wood would say, you may not agree with but to which you at least have to listen.