October 21st, 2015

Books!

Dept. of Books

Between the World and Me

I've wanted to recommend Between The World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for some time; well before I reached the end of this very slim volume, as a matter of fact.

Folks may know of Coates' work at The Atlantic, with his trenchant, unyielding, and often strongly poetic writing about race and America, among many other things. He was named the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant.  (He's a fan, by the way; he's going to be writing The Black Panther for Marvel!)

But this book ... it's rare that I can say "A book changed my view of the world." This one did. It is written as a letter to his teenage son in the wake of the Trayvon Martin murder trial verdict. He speaks to his son as a black man, with a young black son he loves, in a country that doesn't love either of them. Within the first 10 pages of this letter, I was treated to more wisdom, and more hurt, and more righteous anger, than I've read in a long time. 

I'm a middle-class white woman, and reading this was sometimes brutal for me - but it was brutal in all the good "you need to learn this, to understand it, to accept it, " way. Coates is that rarest of combinations; a writer with reportorial skills in equal measure to his command of language, pacing, heart and mind. He made me listen. 

Between the World and Me has been short-listed for the National Book award. You should read it.

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