2015 National Book Award Winner, Nonfiction

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between the World and Me
(Spiegel & Grau/Penguin Random House)
ISBN: 978-0812993547



Between The World And MeTa-Nehisi Coates, Photo credit: Nina Subin

Citation

Between The World and Me is a brutally honest portrayal of the plight of the African-American male in this country.  Composed as a letter to his adolescent son, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes with chilling bleakness and precision about racism in America.  This is no simple account of racism, but rather a concise attack on a system which has consistently rendered black lives worthless.  Incorporating history and personal memoir, Coates has succeeded in creating an essential text for any thinking American today.


National Book Foundation: In the process of writing your book, what did you discover, what, if anything, surprised you?
Coates: I discovered how hard it was to make the abstract into the something visceral. My goal was to take numbers and stats and make people feel them with actual stories. It was to take scholarship and make it literature.


ABOUT THE BOOK

In the one hundred fifty years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: It is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up, and killed in our streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is. Masterfully woven from lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me offers a powerful new framework for understanding America’s history and current crisis, and a transcendent vision for a way forward.


About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a National Correspondent for The Atlantic and the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. Coates has received The National Magazine Award, the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism, and the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story, “The Case for Reparations.” He lives in New York with his wife and son.


SUGGESTED LINKS

- theatlantic.com/author/ta-nehisi-coates/
- Twitter: @tanehisicoates


Get THE BOOK

- Amazon.com
- Barnes & Noble
- IndieBound.org
- iBooks
- WorldCat (Library catalog)
Photo credit: Nina Subin