cover image The Black List

The Black List

Elvis Mitchell, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. Atria Books, $29.95 (198pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-9419-2

Created by photographer Greenfield-Sanders and entertainment critic Mitchell (currently editor-at-large at Interview), this handsome collection of original portraits and essays, companion to the HBO documentary, celebrates 25 successful black Americans, including Toni Morrison, Reverend Al Sharpton, Serena Williams and Colin Powell. Though beautifully reproduced photos capture both ""formality and familiarity,"" the honest, insightful essays are the heart of the book, personal narratives written by the subjects themselves. Greenfield-Sanders means to ""track the black experience in America"" while ""exhibiting the wealth of variety in it,"" and his subjects bring together a wide range of experiences: Zane describes her reasons behind writing erotic literature; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recalls the first time he met Miles Davis; Faye Wattleton, former president of Planned Parenthood, discusses the intersection of her religion and her commitment to advancing freedom. Affixed in a crisp layout, this volume should make a well-crafted gift for readers (of any color) looking for inspiration.