Celebrating Black History Month | Wyatt’s World

As February unfolds and readers set out to mark the celebration of Black History Month, support their efforts with a selection of critical and powerful new works. Then keep the focus going past February with forthcoming titles such as Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil (HarperCollins, Mar.), John Edgar Wideman’s American Histories (Scribner, Mar.), and Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani’s New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Akashic, Apr.).

  • This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins (Harper Perennial).
    Jerkins’s collection of essays is getting focused attention from critics and fellow authors such as Roxane Gay. Behind the buzz is a sharply considered and personal inquiry into identity.
  • Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery by Mat Johnson (text) & Warren Pleece & Clem Robins (illus.) (Berger: Dark Horse).
    Republished this month in a tenth-anniversary edition and updated with an afterword that brings it into 2017, Johnson’s gritty graphic novel takes place in the 1930s and follows a Harlem-based black journalist who passes as a white man so he can go undercover in the South to prevent a lynching—that of his own brother. The art and story are both arresting; the events of seething hate and the terror they expose are horrifying.
  • An American Marriage by by Tayari Jones (Algonquin).
    Jones’s novel is a powerful force, reckoning with the cost of wrongful conviction and the weft and weave of marriage. Incarcerating the innocent creates a havoc that reverberates long and deep. Thus is the case for Celestial and Roy, whose marriage is remapped and rewritten when Roy is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley (Mulholland: Little, Brown).
    With this stand-alone title, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Mosley weaves the story of an NYPD investigator who is framed and imprisoned. Released and working as a PI, he’s pulled back into the case that sent him to Rikers Island. A hard-boiled feast, showcasing Mosley’s style and expert pacing.
  • So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal).
    With urgency, grace, and a straightforward sensibility, Oluo talks about race, exploring intersectionality, privilege, cultural appropriation, microaggression, and a great deal more. Here the author teaches and leads, in a book that is sorely needed.


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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at Readers_Shelf@comcast.net

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