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The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker

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A collection of The New Yorker's groundbreaking writing on race in America—including work by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hilton Als, Zadie Smith, and more—with a foreword by Jelani Cobb This anthology from the pages of The New Yorker provides a bold and complex portrait of Black life in America, told through stories of private triumphs and national trage A collection of The New Yorker's groundbreaking writing on race in America—including work by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hilton Als, Zadie Smith, and more—with a foreword by Jelani Cobb This anthology from the pages of The New Yorker provides a bold and complex portrait of Black life in America, told through stories of private triumphs and national tragedies, political vision, and artistic inspiration. It reaches back across a century, with Rebecca West’s classic account of a 1947 lynching trial and James Baldwin’s “Letter from a Region in My Mind” (which later formed the basis of The Fire Next Time), and yet it also explores our current moment, from the classroom to the prison cell and the upheavals of what Jelani Cobb calls “the American Spring”. Bringing together reporting, profiles, memoir, and criticism from writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Elizabeth Alexander, Hilton Als, Vinson Cunningham, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Malcolm Gladwell, Jamaica Kincaid, Kelefa Sanneh, Doreen St. Félix, and others, the collection offers startling insights about this country’s relationship with race. The Matter of Black Lives reveals the weight of a singular history and challenges us to envision the future anew.


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A collection of The New Yorker's groundbreaking writing on race in America—including work by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hilton Als, Zadie Smith, and more—with a foreword by Jelani Cobb This anthology from the pages of The New Yorker provides a bold and complex portrait of Black life in America, told through stories of private triumphs and national trage A collection of The New Yorker's groundbreaking writing on race in America—including work by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hilton Als, Zadie Smith, and more—with a foreword by Jelani Cobb This anthology from the pages of The New Yorker provides a bold and complex portrait of Black life in America, told through stories of private triumphs and national tragedies, political vision, and artistic inspiration. It reaches back across a century, with Rebecca West’s classic account of a 1947 lynching trial and James Baldwin’s “Letter from a Region in My Mind” (which later formed the basis of The Fire Next Time), and yet it also explores our current moment, from the classroom to the prison cell and the upheavals of what Jelani Cobb calls “the American Spring”. Bringing together reporting, profiles, memoir, and criticism from writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Elizabeth Alexander, Hilton Als, Vinson Cunningham, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Malcolm Gladwell, Jamaica Kincaid, Kelefa Sanneh, Doreen St. Félix, and others, the collection offers startling insights about this country’s relationship with race. The Matter of Black Lives reveals the weight of a singular history and challenges us to envision the future anew.

56 review for The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jolanta (knygupe)

    Rinkinys sudarytas iš senų ir visiškai šviežių New Yorkeryje skelbtų esė. Pirmąją J. Baldwino esė "Letter From a Region In My Mind" implantuočiau į smegenis visiems, nepaisant odos spalvos. Likusias - visiems svaigstantiems apie baltųjų pirmenybę. Rinkinys sudarytas iš senų ir visiškai šviežių New Yorkeryje skelbtų esė. Pirmąją J. Baldwino esė "Letter From a Region In My Mind" implantuočiau į smegenis visiems, nepaisant odos spalvos. Likusias - visiems svaigstantiems apie baltųjų pirmenybę.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    This is a very thoughtful collection of essays from the New Yorker spanning more than five decades, which gives us a historical view of the evolution of Black experience in the country. With essays by great authors like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison whose works I haven’t read before, more contemporary writers commenting on the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, profiles and stories of many Black pioneers like Phyllis Wheatley, Zora Neale Hurston, Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and more ( This is a very thoughtful collection of essays from the New Yorker spanning more than five decades, which gives us a historical view of the evolution of Black experience in the country. With essays by great authors like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison whose works I haven’t read before, more contemporary writers commenting on the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, profiles and stories of many Black pioneers like Phyllis Wheatley, Zora Neale Hurston, Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan and more (some whom I was aware of, others I didn’t ), and many other personal stories of living and surviving as a Black individual and the community as the whole - this is a collection that needs to be savored and cherished and reflected upon. Because despite the passage of so many decades, the central question still remains unanswered - what more should Black people do to change America? Will there ever be an end to institutional racism and discrimination and racial violence in this country?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    A collection of essays that are powerful and on point.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Vnunez-Ms_luv2read

    Very thought provoking and timely read. Outstanding collection of essays that will make one think. Take your time to read and digest the writings. You will not be sorry. Thanks for Netgalley, the author and the publisher of this book for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving this book in this manner had no bearing on this review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bruin Mccon

    This is quite long, as you’d expect from an anthology, and includes so many moving and important perspectives. The Fire Next Time kicks off the book and many more recent articles from the New Yorker follow. The collection hit me hard in many parts but in one of the last pieces, a mother talks about moving after neighbors called the police on her two sons who were riding their bikes in the neighborhood. That one hurt the most but even worse, it’s not something that surprises me at this point. The This is quite long, as you’d expect from an anthology, and includes so many moving and important perspectives. The Fire Next Time kicks off the book and many more recent articles from the New Yorker follow. The collection hit me hard in many parts but in one of the last pieces, a mother talks about moving after neighbors called the police on her two sons who were riding their bikes in the neighborhood. That one hurt the most but even worse, it’s not something that surprises me at this point. The stories of the Watts riots, where cops would arrest Black men for no reason so they wouldn’t be able to get a job with a criminal record. I didn’t know it but should have. In the final few sentences of the last piece, we learn of the long stream of micro aggressions that happened to the author, although some are not so minor. There are so many moments revealed in the book that are shocking but sadly not at all a surprise.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kent

    Reading these essays with sincere interest and a desire for understanding offers the prospect of informing a reader on one of the most important issues facing the United States, what is it like to be Black in America. With informed perspectives maybe we can finally make progress. Be prepared for an emotional, intellectual and visceral journey. It will also take some time to get through 45 essays and 818 pages, but it will be well worth it. I highly recommend it!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    A beautiful and meaningful collection of essays from some very impressive writers. This would make an excellent gift and also serves as a reference book. If you have teenagers in your home, you ought to have this on your book shelf and periodically have them read an essay from the collection and then discuss it around your dinner table.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shana Zucker

    3.5 stars rounded up. By the nature of the length of this tome, there are bound to be highs and lows. Some of these pieces, which were written as long ago as 1947, are an absolute gut punch of astute commentaries on the Black American experience. Others seemed to be unusual choices for this anthology. Regardless, I certainly recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aisha

    5 stars for a really well written and well edited collection of articles originally from The New Yorker about black lives - their careers, their structural/societal challenges, and their joy. Some of the essays were particularly harrowing, all were really well done, and it was enlightening and angering and just important to read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca O’Dell

    It seems the stories of oppression, hope and life haven’t changed much over the years. Race has been such a part of the American psyche since the white man came to town. Each story is memorable and meaningful

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

    A wide variety of writers and stories, all very interesting to read. Though I did not bother with Rebecca West article.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Concinnous

    While great on gathering the articles, this was a bit boring for me. I thought that there would be comments through, but it was just an incredibly fat book of dull newspaper articles.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Roger Mckenzie

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    MD H

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    Marissa Deerkop

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    Max Booher

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    Crystal

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    keziah ♫

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    Jacob

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    Micaela

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    Matt Trowbridge

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