Things I Have Withheld

Kei Miller. Grove, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-802-15895-6
Jamaican poet and novelist Miller (Augustown) gives a searing voice to “the things I have been trying so hard to write” in this entrancing collection. In 14 essays that code-switch between personas and move from the incisive language of a university professor to Jamaican patois, he vividly depicts the ways colonialism, racism, homophobia, and privilege have shaped his life. As he writes in a letter addressed to the late James Baldwin, “there is little between... the set of circumstances you wrote of, and the set of circumstances we live in now.” In “Mr Brown, Mrs White and Ms Black,” a modern-day parable about the nuances of race, he chalks ethnicity up to being “not so much what you are, as... what people have decided you are.” In “My Brother, My Brother,” he witnesses the clash of whiteness and “brudda”-hood as a tourist poses for a photo in a historic slave dungeon in Ghana, while “The Boys at the Harbour” offers a glimpse of the struggles Jamaica’s gay youth face and “this identity that has left so many of them homeless.” Closing with another letter addressing Baldwin, Miller brings into devastating clarity the dangers confronting Black people in visualizing the final moments of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Sharp as blades, Miller’s words cut to the core. Agent: Alice Whitwham, the Cheney Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 05/28/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-8021-5896-3
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