Welcome to This Week in Books, where we highlight books just released by small and independent presses. Books have always been a symbol for and means of spreading knowledge and wisdom, and they are an important part of our toolkit in fighting for social justice....more
Posts Tagged: race
Leah Mirakhor interviews Homegoing author Yaa Gyasi for the Los Angeles Review of Books. On her novel and Ness, a primary character, Gyasi says:
This novel was an attempt for me to say: We cannot look away when something like this is happening.
Roxane Gay is from the Midwest, but as a woman of color she feels like an outsider in the rural places she often inhabits. In an essay for Brevity, “Black in Middle America,” Gay examines reactions to her face in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a place so remote “my blackness was more curiosity than threat”, and in Illinois’s cornfields—somewhere blackness is more familiar but no more understood....more
Kaitlyn Greenidge, author most recently of We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books) provides her take on Lionel Shriver’s recent remarks at the Brisbane Writers’ Festival for the New York Times. Greenidge recalls writing her first novel in which there was an eighty-year-old Yankee heiress....more
Over at the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center blog, Suzi F. Garcia challenges the idea of poetry as a niche act of the elites by showing just how vital and contagious teaching a text like Citizen can be:
Move poetry outside of its context.
For The New Republic, Suki Kim writes of Lionel Shriver’s remarks in Brisbane, “I had been invited to the Brisbane Writers Festival as a writer, but now I was here, foremost, as an Asian” and how the controversy shifted the theme of the festival from “connection and belonging” to “being a minority in Lionel Shriver’s world....more
Here is the thing: silence does not protect us; in fact it suffocates us.
Marcia Chatelain, professor, author, and originator of #thefergusonsyllabus, discusses the importance of talking about race in high school and college classrooms in Lenny Letter....more
Allison Meier writes for Hyperallergic on the hand-drawn, recently digitized data visualizations produced by W. E. B. DuBois (in collaboration with others) to demonstrate the size and scope of black life in America at the turn of the 20th century. These sociological charts cover population percentages, property ownership, chosen fields of study and professions by black people leading up to Paris’s Exposition Universelle of 1900....more
There’s a tendency to take writers who write about race and shuffle them into a genre, into a predetermined conversation, whether they wanted to be there or not. But even if the constraints of the game are rigged, what Jenny Zhang, Tanwi Nandini Islam, and Karan Mahajan have to say cuts through the BS pretty quickly:
It’s a real detriment to the quality of these spaces when they end up being dominated by white folks.
Despite its uncanny salience in the context of this most recent wave of social injustice and protest, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was written well before the #BlackLivesMatter movement began. Far from a coincidence, the book’s resonance is a product of the same paradox of time it describes, in which dated social conditions cannot possibly continue to exist, yet do:
All of the characters, regardless of how completely absurd they seem, are reacting to living in a time in which Beatty also resides; one in which he is daring to call something “‘Racism’ in a post-racial world.”
One of the world’s most read and beloved poets since the 13th century, and an immensely important artistic, academic, and spiritual figure in the Muslim community, is getting his own movie. So who is going to take on the leading role of Rumi, whose poems about love, faith, and spirituality have guided generations?...more
Over at Catapult, Kashana Cauley explores the origins of the Midwestern accent and discovers its roots in racial segregation:
Apparently it wasn’t enough for GLVS [Great Lakes Vowel Shift] speakers to move very far away from minorities in order to avoid us: They desperately needed to adopt a nasal accent to make sure they didn’t resemble us in any way.
Hey! We’re white! And we all voted for Obama! Twice! We should do something to help the literary downtrodden.
American literature is already frustrating enough with publishing sorely lacking in diversity. But things can be even worse when the white-dominated industry tries too hard to appeal to writers of color....more