You’re Not an Antiracist Yet? I Can HelpLiteratur & Poesi
The Invention of Wings Covering a 35-year period in Charleston, the story is told through the eyes of Sarah Grimke, the middle child of slaveowners, and Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a slave. At age ten, Handful is given to Sarah to be her handmaiden for life. Over the years, the girls form a relationship marked by friendship, guilt, defiance, and estrangement. As an adult, Sarah finds her place in the abolition movement as a writer and speaker, while Handful’s path is stamped with loss and uncertainty, as she cares for her younger sister and their beloved mother. An exquisitely written novel of empowerment and liberation, this packs a punch.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng This debut book is a literary powerhouse wrapped up in the racial politics of the 1970s, the burden of familial expectations, and a thirst for belonging. Ng unpacks generations of the Lees’ secrets, through crushingly detailed observations, and clear, blunt sentences. Each family member is deconstructed intimately and viscerally, and the work that she builds is masterful. This is a compelling fiction that asks important questions about race and ethnicity, at a time when being different didn’t matter.
Notes From No Man’s Land by Eula Biss The winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, this brilliantly crafted book on the subject of race in America runs the gamut of what Black Americans can experience in the United States, but it also explores how white people tend to react to racism when confronted by it. Among the essays are a history of lynchings; talking to children at a school in Harlem on 9/11; settling into Chicago’s most diverse neighborhood; and watching the aftermath of Katrina from acollege town in Iowa. Biss is a masterful writer, insightful and precise, often threading together pieces of Black history and parts of her own life that become an interlocking chain, and we sit in front of these essays at the end, stunned, wondering how she did it.
Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar This is an extraordinary story about an African-American woman who not only escaped slavery at the Executive Mansion in 1797, but was never recaptured. A finalist for the National Book Award, Dunbar tells Oona Judge’s story from interviews and from descriptions offered from those interested in having her returned, as well as those committed to keeping her safe. Because there are so few fugitive slave accounts on record of that time, Dunbar’s story has shined a light on female slaves and their plight as a whole. Their stories are under-appreciated, hidden in libraries and historical archives. Never Caught seeks to change that history and rewrite it for the ages.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid This masterly written debut novel is stunning for Reid’s ability to keep us guessing about the true identity regarding her characters’ personalities until the end of the book. Her depth of talent and perception of how these characters see themselves, regardless of the fact that she is black, and some are of them are white is a powerful testament to her ability of how clearly she is able to read not just human behavior, but white culture and their actions, emotions, and dreams. What I found most enjoyable, though is you don’t spend the entire book dealing with the consequences of “the video.” However, it is this critical event in both characters’ lives that changes the relationship between Emira and Alix. When racism intersects the workplace, and white people don’t know how to react—because they’ve never been taught how—the repercussions are bad for everyone.
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann A disturbing and riveting book, this is a work of literary journalism that paints an intimate picture of both victim and predator on the page, and shows us in its entirety what we has been done to both specifically to Osage Indians and Native Americans in general. The book covers four years of murders, from 1921-1925, as well as the early years of the FBI, but Grann details much more than that and is a staunch reporter, digging through thousands of pages of FBI files, grand jury testimony, and other materials. The book is highly readable, chilling, and effective at overturning a deep-rooted, sickening conspiracy, that nearly everyone in this country has forgotten.