National Book Award 2016
November 17, 2016
Sorry, I have no ARC’s for these, my few of the Underground Railroad having long parted me, but I’m hoping wherever they are, they’re being shared to the max.
The National Book Foundation’s website lists this year’s winners. We already owned all but the poetry book by Borzutzky, which I am ordering.
Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. Doubleday.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor–engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.<br> Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey–hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Kendi, Ibram X. Stamped from the Beginning. Nation Books.
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti-prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America. As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation’s racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them–and in the process, gives us reason to hope.
Borzutzky, Daniel. The Performance of Becoming Human. Brooklyn Art Pr.
Daniel Borzutzky returns to confront the various ways nation-states and their bureaucracies absorb and destroy communities and economies. In THE PERFORMANCE OF BECOMING HUMAN, the bay of Valparaiso merges into the western shore of Lake Michigan, where Borzutzky continues his poetic investigation into the political and economic violence shared by Chicago and Chile, two places integral to his personal formation. To become human is to navigate borders, including the fuzzy borders of institutions, the economies of privatization, overdevelopment, and underdevelopment, under which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses in cities, villages, deserts. Borzutzky, whose writing Eileen Myles has described as “violent, perverse, and tender” in its portrayal of a “kaleidoscopic journey of American horror and global horror,” adds another chapter to a growing and important compendium of work that asks what it means to a be both a unitedstatesian and a globalized subject whose body is “shared between the earth, the st
ate, and the bank.”
Lewis, John. March: Book Three. Top Shelf Books.
Welcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning andbest-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one ofthe key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin andartist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a newgeneration, urgently relevant for today’s world. By the fall of 1963, theCivil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, andas chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis isguiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continuesto force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every stepforward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legaltricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change isto give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression:”One Man, One Vote.” To carry out their nonviolentrevolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovativecampaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and anall-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on nationaltelevision. With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and anunpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within themovement are deepening … even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to riskeverything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town calledSelma.