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A Little Devil in America


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A celebration of Black culture beyond the white gaze, by one of America's most talked-about young cultural critics

About the Author

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was named a book of the year by BuzzFeed, Esquire, NPR, O- The Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and Chicago Tribune, among others. His most recent book, Go Ahead in the Rain- Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.


Hanif Abdurraqib's genius is in pinpointing those moments in American cultural history when Black people made lightning strike. But Black performance, Black artistry, Black freedom too often came at devastating price. The real devil in America is America itself, the one who stole the soul that he, through open eyes and fearless prose, snatches back. This is searing, revelatory, filled with utter heartbreak, and unstoppable joy. -- Marlon James, author of Black Leopard Red Wolf
A rapturous exploration of black genius. Whether heralding unsung entertainers or re-examining legends, Hanif Abdurraqib weaves together gorgeous essays that reveal the resilience, heartbreak, and joy within black performance. I read this book breathlessly. -- Brit Bennett * author of The Vanishing Half *
To read Hanif Abdurraqib is to be embraced in the middle of chaos. In his latest book, A Little Devil In America: In Praise of Black Performance, he does what many great writers do, which is to illuminate and join the dots between connections readers may once have failed to see. * Huck *
Abdurraqib is one of the most brilliant writers I've ever read. A Little Devil In America needs to be on every bedside table, every high school and college desktop - and basically, in this age of a revolution, this is that ONE book that everyone needs to read. Pure genius. I'm not even trying to get at even SOME of the brilliance Hanif gets to with this book-there is just too much. From Black Exceptionalism to Josephine Baker to Old Heads-he brings it and clarifies it, then shapes it into every bit of medicine we need right now. -- Jacqueline Woodson * author of Red at the Bone *
Poignant, powerful, candid, written with sincerity and emotion ... An important book * New York Times *
The most important cultural critic in America right now? This writer gets my vote. Abdurraqib has delivered a winner. * Chicago Tribune *
Hanif Abdurraqib has a way of taking slices of our cultural landscape, examining them, and transforming them into observations and analyses that leave me underlining the entire page. In A Little Devil In America, Abdurraqib brilliantly braids together history, criticism, and prose so stunning that it makes you want to read every word out loud just so you can hear its music. Everything Abdurraqib writes is a must-read, but this is his best yet. It is one of the most dynamic books I have ever read. -- Clint Smith
Blending pop-culture essays, memoir, and poetry, A Little Devil in America delves into the manyiterations of Black artistic expression through an often deeply personal lens ...Startling, layered, and timely, this is an essential, illuminating collection * Booklist (starred review) *
A thoughtful memoir rolled into a set of joined essays on life, death, and the Black experience in America... Social criticism, pop culture, and autobiography come together neatly in these pages, and every sentence is sharp, provocative, and self-aware ... A winner. -- Kirkus Reviews (*starred review*)
A Little Devil in America is so so heavy in some places that I have to take breaks. It just hurts to read some of these truths, woven in such beautiful writing. -- Yomi Sode
In this staggeringly intimate meditation, Abdurraqib shines a light on how Black artists have shaped-and been shaped by-American culture. His prose is reliably razor-sharp. Filled with nuance and lyricism, Abdurraqib's luminous survey is stunning. * Publishers Weekly (starred review) *
Abdurraqib pens respectful, heartwarming essays that reflect on giants in music, television, cinema, and even magic...his stories will inspire and provoke thoughtful meditations on how Black lives matter in all areas of life and art. * Library Journal (starred review) *
Abdurraqib uses his inimitable blend of incisive, piercing criticism and shimmering stream-of-consciousness to explore everything from the problem with praising Black women for being "vessels" who have "saved America" with their votes (he points out: "It occurred to me that Black women were simply attempting to save themselves") to Dave Chappelle's appeal to white audiences to the death of his mother. Moving, provocative, and infused with a singular lyricism, A Little Devil in America is an exultant blend of memoir and criticism, a must-read for anyone looking to better understand this country and its people. * Refinery29 *

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