Many of us hope that we would not end up on the wrong side of the potent conversations in this electrifying play. But there are so many wrong sides. The lines Rankine draws here are blurry and moving fast - the discomfort is the point. Rankine does here what all great dramatists do - distills the complex noise of our time into a clear mirror. When we catch a glimpse of ourselves we are forced to try to do better.
In 2016, Albert Woodfox was released from prison after years of campaigning by activists, judges, politicians, and members of the Angola Three support network. Framed for the murder of a prison guard along with two other Black Panther Party members, he'd been kept in solitary confinement for over 40 years due to a system of falsified accusations, reprisals, and sabotaged appeals involving collusion at dizzying levels of government and judiciary. In these pages, his goal is not just to tell his incredible story, but to educate us about the many, many ways mass incarceration and police brutality are used as a weapon against Black communities. Radicalized in prison, Woodfox drew immense strength and determination from the principles of the Black Panther Party; in every cell block or yard, he worked to eradicate violence, materially improve conditions, practice liberation, and call for change. The very least he's owed is for us to listen.
The stories in Friday Black are volatile, unpredictable concoctions. While reading them, I imagined author Nana Kwame Adeji-Brenyah as a mad scientist, mixing beakers with wild abandon: some societal critique here, a little gallows humor there, a dose of dystopian sci-fi just for kicks. The resulting stories feel just as likely to combust as they do to end. Adjei-Brenyah is among the most exciting new voices in fiction I've encountered all year, the heir apparent to Vonnegut and Saunders's tradition of dark, socially incisive postmodernism.
Julian is a mermaid - of this there is no doubt. But how will this identity expression be met by his family? This is a question we get to explore through this book's resplendent watercolor illustrations and streamlined story. It's about the transformative power of loving acceptance during pivotal moments of self-doubt. For the mermaid in all of us.
Niru and Meredith, highschoolers in Washington, D.C., are outstanding students, runners, best friends and more, until Niru faces the facts of being gay. Once his Nigerian parents discover his sexual preferences, Niru is beaten by his father and taken to the parish priest, who recommends a return to Nigeria to be "cured." A powerful, poignant coming of age tale, this story spotlights the joy of carefree youth careening toward tragic destinations!
The best fantasy I have read in ages. Achingly masterful and brimming with complexly rendered main and secondary characters, Adeyemi's Orisha world will sweep you up in its embrace with one arm and brandish a knife at you with the other. Paced perfectly at un-put-downable, this is your 2018 must-read.
One of my favorite mystery writers,Walter Mosley, says this "Small-town murder investigation reveals what lies at the heart of America's confusion over race." So if you like mysteries, and you're ready for one with a large side of social justice and race issues (and if East Texas has any place in your heart), this is the book for you. I loved black Texas Ranger Darren Matthews. He conflicted, he's tough, and he's got a heart the size of Texas. The issues he's dealing with are real and pressing, and it's a privilege to be entertained and to learn at the same time.
So many novels that try to discuss the internet and technology culture do so in a way that feels like the author's never actually used the internet. Is it impossibly difficult to write well about the ways in which we live and have relationships through online platforms that exploit personal privacy and data for capitalist gains? I don't know. I also don't know if we're ever going to run out of books that treat the internet (you know, the global infrastructure used by billions of people for decades) and its users and communities with condescension or alarmism. But Dexter Palmer's Version Control is antithesis of those books: it braids together surveillance culture, dating apps, time travel, and an intimate, often sad portrait of a marriage together into a powerful exploration of possibility and truth. It's really funny and very sharp, and I loved every page.
This is a raw and intimate account of one's relationship to the context of one's body. Gay lays herself bare as she explores the 'why' of her body, all the while forcing the reader (at least this one) to do the same. An amazing read for anyone currently residing in a body.
NK Jemisin is known for exceptional world-building that's drawn devoted science fiction and fantasy genre readers, but anyone not reading her work is missing out on an amazing stylist and user of narrative technique. This book scared the pants off me. It beings with a lone saboteur creating a natural disaster that splits the entire continent, and Jemisin leads the reader in time through the eyes of several characters as we try to figure out what's going on. It's got huge plot twists, complex protagonists, and really fun magic. Her characters are fighting for justice (or revenge) as their world falls apart around them, and you can't help but root for them. The second title in the series, The Obelisk Gate, is out already, and I hope you'll pick it up!