Out of the Sun: On Race and Storytelling

Esi Edugyan. House of Anansi, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4870-1050-8
Novelist Edugyan (Washington Black) delivers a fascinating study of the “world of shadows [that] edges our written histories.” Originally delivered as the 2020 Massey Lectures, Edugyan’s reflections take a region and a theme as a starting point—“Europe and the Art of Seeing,” “America and the Art of Empathy”—and interweave cultural criticism; sketches of obscure historical episodes, including the forced removal of the Black families who settled Priceville, Ontario, in the 1830s and the desecration of their cemetery; and autobiographical details about her life as the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants to Canada. Discussing artist Kehinde Wiley’s portraits of contemporary Black men in poses that evoke European aristocrats and painters, Edugyan astutely pinpoints “a plea to have an essential humanity acknowledged.” Elsewhere, she shares the fascinating stories of Clarence King, a white adventurer in 19th-century America who led a double life as a Black Pullman porter married to a woman born into slavery, and Edward Nkoloso, a Zambian scientist whose plans to send “Afronauts” to Mars in the 1960s may have been “part of a covert resistance movement against the tyrannical colonial and native authorities.” Distinguished by its erudite yet unpretentious prose and probing viewpoints, this is an essential reckoning with how history is made. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/23/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4870-0987-8
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