The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers
In the introduction to this collection, readers are reminded that being a Black woman has always been synonymous with being a storyteller and speaker of truth. The words of visionaries like Sojourner Truth, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and Harriet Jacobs are reexamined, revealing their limitless power. Their words are a testament to the importance of perseverance, history, and hope.
Toni Morrison’s Sula is a complex and vibrant portrait of Black womanhood, friendship, desire, and freedom. Centered around the inarguably memorable Sula Peace and Nel Wright, the novel maps out the ebb and flow of their friendship as they navigate the complexities of autonomy, independence, and adulthood. This novel, like a hymn, is holy. Its pages sing.
What We Lose
In Zinzi Clemmons’s debut novel, a young woman named Thandi grapples with the loss of her mother and pain that comes with her absence. Coupled with a crumbling romance, Thandi’s grief becomes the epicenter of her world. Embodied by photos, graphs, and soul-searing vignettes, Clemmons artfully maps out what it means to mourn and love and heal.
Land of Love and Drowning
Rooted in a world awash in secrets, magic, and myth, Tiphanie Yanique’s spellbinding debut, Land of Love and Drowning, focuses on the unbreakable bond between two sisters, Eeona and Anette. From beginning to end, each page reveals how history can shape a person’s fate and how love can redirect the trajectory of one’s path.
First published in 1984, Lorde’s quintessential collection of essays and speeches confronts the violence of patriarchal oppression while challenging the systemic impact of homophobia, classism, and racism. Written with wisdom, rage, and vulnerability, Lorde’s words are truth in the purest sense of the word. She will remind you of the power of your own voice.
Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson’s vibrant memoir gives readers an intimate glimpse into the world of Chicago’s Black bourgeois. A community defined by intellectualism, affluence, and an insatiable desire to be the best, Jefferson’s Negroland also casts an unwavering light on the insidious side effects of social mobility, exposing the complexities of privilege through the lens of gender and race.
In my apartment, I have a special bookcase, and on its shelves sit the stories of women like me. The words of these Black women remind me of my history and my birthright as a storyteller. The precision and heart of Toni Morrison’s prose urges me to find wonder in syntax. The speeches of Sojourner Truth prove how one voice can change the course of history. Tiphanie Yanique’s prose illustrates how sisterhood can heal. In this way, their words are magic. Here are a few of the titles that I return to often, books that remind me who I am.
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