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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 latest anthology from the pages of the New Yorker is a bold and telling portrait of Black life in America, featuring astonishing early work from Rebecca West’s accou 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 latest anthology from the pages of the New Yorker is a bold and telling portrait of Black life in America, featuring astonishing early work from Rebecca West’s account of a lynching trial and James Baldwin’s “Letter from a Region in My Mind” (which later formed the basis of The Fire Next Time) to more recent writing by Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Zadie Smith, Hilton Als, Jamaica Kincaid, Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Alexander, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Doreen St. Félix, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Kelefa Sanneh, and more. Reaching back across the last century, The Matter of Black Lives includes a wide array of material from the New Yorker archives ranging across essays, reported pieces, profiles, criticism, and historical pieces. The book addresses everything from the arts to civil rights, matters of justice, and politics; it brings us up to the present day with accounts of what Jelani Cobb calls “The American Spring.” The result is a startling and nuanced portrait of this country’s complex relationship with race. 


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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 latest anthology from the pages of the New Yorker is a bold and telling portrait of Black life in America, featuring astonishing early work from Rebecca West’s accou 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 latest anthology from the pages of the New Yorker is a bold and telling portrait of Black life in America, featuring astonishing early work from Rebecca West’s account of a lynching trial and James Baldwin’s “Letter from a Region in My Mind” (which later formed the basis of The Fire Next Time) to more recent writing by Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Zadie Smith, Hilton Als, Jamaica Kincaid, Malcolm Gladwell, Elizabeth Alexander, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Doreen St. Félix, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Kelefa Sanneh, and more. Reaching back across the last century, The Matter of Black Lives includes a wide array of material from the New Yorker archives ranging across essays, reported pieces, profiles, criticism, and historical pieces. The book addresses everything from the arts to civil rights, matters of justice, and politics; it brings us up to the present day with accounts of what Jelani Cobb calls “The American Spring.” The result is a startling and nuanced portrait of this country’s complex relationship with race. 

41 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. Pirmąsias dvi J. Baldwino esė 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

    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.

  4. 5 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 4 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

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    A collection of essays that are powerful and on point.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rej

  11. 5 out of 5

    Evisa

  12. 5 out of 5

    Concinnous

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  15. 4 out of 5

    Darius Irani

  16. 4 out of 5

    Steve Walker

  17. 4 out of 5

    solomon

  18. 5 out of 5

    Faith

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tia

  20. 4 out of 5

    Poppy Williams

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nuha

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  24. 5 out of 5

    JO

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe Collura

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adrian W.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Milena Braga

  29. 5 out of 5

    Keith Haun

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christine Northrip

  31. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kokias

  32. 4 out of 5

    Adam Burke

  33. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kim Eshleman

  35. 4 out of 5

    Letese'

  36. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  37. 4 out of 5

    madi

  38. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  39. 4 out of 5

    keziah ♫

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

  41. 4 out of 5

    Micaela

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