provides readers with much to contemplate
on the topics of race, home, family, disability, and survival. Finally, Prahlad considers
the might of memory and its ability to hurt
or heal: “Everything still remembers. The
earth remembers things. DNA remembers.
Objects and things remember.” And readers
won’t easily forget this prismatic and powerful story of an atypical life. — Tony Miksanek
There Are More Beautiful Things Than
By Morgan Parker.
Feb. 2017. 96p. Tin House, $14.95 (9781941040539). 811.
“Today your open eyes are two fresh buds,”
Parker concludes in “Poem on Beyoncé’s
birthday,”—“Anything could be waiting.”
And in this simmering stew of pop culture
and politics, history and humor, wild imagination and wit, anything really could be
waiting. Parker’s second collection, following
her prizewinning debut, Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night (2015), exquisitely
examines American values, often summoning
its celebrities—Beyoncé, Michelle Obama,
Lou Reed—to illuminate society’s staggering shortcomings and the intricacies of black
womanhood. “These are Dangerous Times,
Man,” Parker titles one poem, and so they are
as she takes on various personas. As Michelle
Obama, Parker considers invisibility (“Am I a
moon no one sees”); as Beyoncé, she ponders
performance (“Never give them / what they
want, when they want it”); as the Hottentot
Venus, she laments captivity (“I am technically
nothing / human”). Yet despite fluctuations in
voice, these poems are, without a doubt, Parker’s as she encapsulates vulnerability, feminism,
and utter fearlessness in rhythmic, glittering
verse. In a nod to Mickalene Thomas, Parker
writes, “We bright enough to blind you.” Her
words truly are. —Briana Shemroske
By Layli Long Soldier.
Mar. 2017. 120p. Graywolf, paper, $16
In 2009, President Obama signed a Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native
Americans, which could have proven historically monumental, but the resolution was
never read aloud, no tribal leaders received it,
and the apology was subsumed in a Defense
Appropriations Act. For this searingly intelligent, masterfully crafted, and unarguably
important debut book of poetry, Long Soldier
takes the Resolution of Apology as a bulwark
against which to orient a poetic response.
Blending prose and verse, writing in heritage language and foster tongue, playing with
white space and marginalia, Long Soldier
articulates an argument against the conventional framing of Native space surrounded
and dominated by federal lands, hijacking
legalese to resist this ongoing colonization. In
the process, she generates singular and ineffable imagery: “I’m chewing at a funeral and.
I’m nibbling my pulp knuckles.” Elsewhere,
“A tick head burrows in the skin of a ques-
The most compelling books about issues pertaining to diversity reviewed in Booklist between February 1, 2016, and January
2017 cover a range of personal experiences as well as new historical
disclosures. —Donna Seaman
The Blood of Emmett Till. By Timothy B. Tyson. 2017. Simon &
Schuster, $27 (9781476714844).
Tyson offers fresh perspectives on the tragic death of young
Emmett Till, in 1955 Mississippi, including an interview with the white woman at the
center of the case.
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race. Ed. by Jesmyn Ward. 2016.
Scribner, $26 (9781501126345).
Building on James Baldwin’s famous essay collection, Ward has assembled poetry and
prose by writers such as Natasha Tretheway and Kevin Young to address racial tensions in
I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. By Luvvie Ajayi. 2016. Holt, $17
Ajayi, aka popular blogger Awesomely Luvvie, has crafted an astute and humorous
handbook about how to navigate social media and its impact on everything from self-esteem to racial attitudes.
Island People: The Caribbean and the World. By Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. 2016. Knopf,
Jelly-Schapiro presents a fascinating look at the Caribbean, with its influential multicul-tural traditions and historical role in globalization.
Our Black Sons Matter: Mothers Talk about Fears, Sorrows, and Hopes. Ed. by George
Yancy and others. 2017. Rowman & Littlefield, $34 (9781442269118).
This collection of powerful and thoughtful reflections addresses the concerns of mothers who worry about whether their black sons will survive to manhood.
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin. By Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.
2017. Random, $26 (9780812997231).
Fulton and Martin candidly describe their shock, grief, and grueling quest for justice
after their son, Trayvon Martin, was murdered, creating a galvanizing account of how a
personal loss inspired a national movement.
Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American
Muslim. By Sabeeha Rehman. 2016. Arcade, $25.99 (9781628726633).
Rehman chronicles her transformation from a young woman in Pakistan to a Pakistani American in New York, charting various degrees of identity, assimilation, and
True South: Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the Landmark Television Series That
Reframed the Civil Rights Movement. By Jon Else. 2017. Viking, $30 (9781101980934).
Combining a behind-the-scenes history of the making of the pioneering civil rights
documentary Eyes on the Prize and a portrait of its guiding light, Henry Hampton, Else’s
hard-driving account is richly revealing and sharply relevant.
When We Rise: My Life in the Movement. By Cleve Jones. 2016. Hachette, $27
LGBTQ activist Jones, father of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, imbues his enlightening
memoir with a powerful sense of history in the making as his story illuminates both
LGBTQ-rights breakthroughs and painful setbacks.
Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel. By Dan
Slater. 2016. Simon & Schuster, $26.95 (9781501126543).
Slater portrays “wolf boys,” recruited by Mexican cartels to be hit men, as part of his
riveting report on the history and current intricacies of the illicit drug trade along the
TOP 10 DIVERSE NONFICTION