Thick: And Other Essays

Finalist, National Book Awards 2019 for Nonfiction

ISBN 9781620974360
The New Press
Author photo of Tressie McMillan Cottom. (Photo credit: The New York Times)
Tressie McMillan Cottom

Tressie McMillan Cottom (Chair) is a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, New York Times columnist, and 2020 MacArthur Fellow. Recent accolades include being named the 2023 winner of Brandeis University’s Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—is unapologetically “thick”: deemed “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less,” McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick “transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women” (Los Angeles Review of Books) with “writing that is as deft as it is amusing” (Darnell L. Moore).

This “transgressive, provocative, and brilliant” (Roxane Gay) collection cements McMillan Cottom’s position as a public thinker capable of shedding new light on what the “personal essay” can do. She turns her chosen form into a showcase for her critical dexterity, investigating everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies.

Collected in an indispensable volume that speaks to the everywoman and the erudite alike, these unforgettable essays never fail to be “painfully honest and gloriously affirming” and hold “a mirror to your soul and to that of America” (Dorothy Roberts).

Judges Citation

In these essays, Tressie McMillan Cottom excavates hidden truths about gender, race, and power in contemporary America. Thick engages with a pop star’s dance moves as readily as systemic racism, the failures of white feminism, and the writers at our most visible op-ed pages. An intellectual at home in the world, Cottom illuminates and deepens our understanding, turning in-the-moment commentary into indelible cultural analysis in this brilliant, essential book.