Here are four titles from Kirkus’ Fall Preview that address America’s ongoing reckoning with racial inequity:
A Knock at Midnight by Brittany Barnett (Crown, Sept. 8): “For the first 90 pages, Barnett, born in 1984, focuses on her youth as a Black female in rural East Texas whose drug-addicted mother ended up in prison. In the remainder of the book, the author mixes straightforward memoir with inspiring accounts of her crusades for social justice….Considering her youthfulness, Barnett has accomplished more reform than most individuals could accomplish in two lifetimes.”
Just Us by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, Sept. 8): “A cross-disciplinary inquiry into race as the determining construct in American life and culture—and how it is perceived and experienced so differently by those who consider themselves White….Rankine resists being pigeonholed, particularly by White critics….In this genre-defying work, the author…combines poetry, essay, visuals, scholarship, analysis, invective, and argument into a passionate and persuasive case about many of the complex mechanics of race in this country—especially how White people barely acknowledge it…while for Black people, it affects everything.”
Why Didn’t We Riot? by Issac J. Bailey (Other Press, Oct. 6): “A Black journalist gives Trump supporters a powerful lesson in history and truth….By no fault of Bailey’s, die-hard Trumplandians aren’t likely to be swayed, and conscientious Americans will come away from this book further enraged by the pernicious, persistent pattern of racial injustice in this country.”
White Tears/Black Scars by Ruby Hamad (Catapult, Oct. 6): “Journalist Hamad picks up where her 2018 article left off, delving into why White women’s comfort is prioritized and their tears ‘weaponized’ to further marginalize women of color….With scholarly but highly engaging prose, Hamad details White women’s roles in oppression across continents, a much-needed history lesson for those inclined to reduce racism to individual behavior….An extraordinary book for anyone who wishes to pay more than lip service to truly inclusive, intersectional feminism.”
Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor.