Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine

Emily Bernard. Knopf, $25.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-451-49302-6
Bernard, a University of Vermont professor of English and race and ethnic studies, intimately explores her life through the lens of race in this contemplative and compassionate collection of personal essays. As a Yale graduate student, Bernard was the victim of a mass stabbing, an event at the center of the book’s opening essay, “Beginnings,” and her premise that writing about and remembering a traumatic past is a process “fundamental in black American experience.” She aims to “contribute something to the American racial drama besides the enduring narrative of black innocence and white guilt,” in essays that include “Teaching the N-Word” and “Motherland,” about adopting and raising two girls from Ethiopia with her white husband. Bernard’s voice throughout is personable yet incisive in exploring the lived reality of race. By examining her family’s Southern roots and her present life in Vermont, in “Interstates,” she explores the differences and the bridge between white and black in her life. In “Black Is the Body,” a beautiful reflection on racial difference and disparities, she acknowledges how race has informed “everything I do, and everything I write.” Bernard’s wisdom and compassion radiate throughout this thoughtful collection. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 01/29/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-451-49303-3
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