The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from the New Yorker

Edited by Jelani Cobb and David Remnick. Ecco, $35 (848p) ISBN 978-0-06-301759-7
New Yorker staff writer Cobb (The Substance of Hope) and editor Remnick (The Bridge) present an expansive anthology of pieces from the magazine’s archives on the “political, cultural, and economic questions surrounding race and Black achievement.” James Baldwin’s “Letter from a Region in My Mind,” later published as The Fire Next Time, opens the proceedings, setting a high bar that the collection, for the most part, maintains. Other highlights include Hilton Als’s “Homecoming,” which interweaves reflections on the 1967 Brownsville uprising and the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd by police in 2020 with insights into the cultural burdens placed on Black artists; Renata Adler’s report on the 1964 Selma to Montgomery civil rights march, which captures the homespun feel of the movement before it was mythologized; and Sarah Broom’s “The Yellow House,” a poignant meditation on the loss of her family home in Hurricane Katrina that became a National Book Award–winning memoir. Beyond the stellar prose, what unites these pieces, which range widely in length, tone, and point of view, is Baldwin’s insight, paraphrased by Cobb, that “the American future is precisely as bright or as dark as our capacity to grapple with [the legacy of racism].” This standout anthology illuminates a matter of perennial concern. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/21/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 768 pages - 978-0-06-301761-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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