There’s something sublime on every page of Hanif Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in America.
On this week’s episode, Hanif Abdurraqib discusses A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance (Random House, March 30), another outstanding collection of interlocking criticism and memoir from a writer Kirkus calls “always worth paying attention to.”
Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio, who hosts the music and culture podcast Object of Sound on Sonos. In A Little Devil in America, he turns his attention to matters of life and death, song and dance, and what it means to be Black in America.
Kirkus: “The chapters open with flowing stream-of-consciousness introductory passages…and then settle in to tightly constructed, smart essays—[as in ‘On Marathons and Tunnels’], about the history of marathon dancing, the exhilarating contributions but tragic life of Soul Train host Don Cornelius, the deaths of both his mother and Aretha Franklin, and numerous other subjects.…Social criticism, pop culture, and autobiography come together neatly in these pages, and every sentence is sharp, provocative, and self-aware” (starred review).
Abdurraqib and host Megan Labrise discuss the virtual events celebrating his book, including one with his longtime friend Eve L. Ewing; what awakens him to the idea that he might want to write about a particular song or dance or performance; an audience as an organism; Don Cornelius strutting the Soul Train Line with Mary Wilson; magician Ellen Armstrong, and much more.
Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, Laurie Muchnick, and Johanna Zwirner join with their reading recommendations for the week.
Too Bright To See by Kyle Lukoff (Dial Books)
From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo (Norton Young Readers)
The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)
The Souvenir Museum by Elizabeth McCracken (Ecco/HarperCollins)
Also mentioned in this episode:
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead (Knopf)
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken (Dial Press)
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken (Little, Brown)
Thunderstruck & Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken (Dial Press)
Thanks to our advertisers this week:
A Path With No Name by Mali A. Mann
Angel of Mercy and Other Stories by Don Pizzarello
A Once-Dead Genius in the Kennel of Master Morticue Ambergrand by R. Gary Raham
The Shoemaker’s Daughter: A Novel by Helen Martin Block
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.