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{ "item_title" : "A Little Devil in America", "item_author" : [" Hanif Abdurraqib "], "item_description" : "NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST - A sweeping, genre-bending masterpiece (Minneapolis Star Tribune) exploring Black art, music, and culture in all their glory and complexity--from Soul Train, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Whitney Houston, and BeyoncONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Morning News, Publishers Weekly Gorgeous essays that reveal the resilience, heartbreak, and joy within Black performance.--Brit Bennett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too. Inspired by these few words, spoken by Josephine Baker at the 1963 March on Washington, MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow and bestselling author Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines--whether it's the twenty-seven seconds in Gimme Shelter in which Merry Clayton wails the words rape, murder, a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt--has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib's own personal history of love, grief, and performance. Touching on Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Billy Dee Williams, the Wu-Tan Clan, Dave Chappelle, and more, Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent. Filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart, A Little Devil in America exalts the Black performance that unfolds in specific moments in time and space--from midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio. WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL AND THE GORDON BURN PRIZE - FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD AND THE PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, Time, The Boston Globe, NPR, Rolling Stone, Esquire, BuzzFeed, Thrillist, She Reads, BookRiot, BookPage, Electric Lit, The Rumpus, LitHub, Library Journal, Booklist", "item_img_path" : "https://covers2.booksamillion.com/covers/bam/1/98/480/119/1984801198_b.jpg", "price_data" : { "retail_price" : "27.00", "online_price" : "22.41", "our_price" : "22.41", "club_price" : "22.41", "savings_pct" : "17", "savings_amt" : "4.59", "club_savings_pct" : "17", "club_savings_amt" : "4.59", "discount_pct" : "10", "store_price" : "" } }
A Little Devil in America|Hanif Abdurraqib
A Little Devil in America : Notes in Praise of Black Performance
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Overview

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST - A sweeping, genre-bending "masterpiece" (Minneapolis Star Tribune) exploring Black art, music, and culture in all their glory and complexity--from Soul Train, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Whitney Houston, and Beyonc

ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Dallas Morning News, Publishers Weekly
"Gorgeous essays that reveal the resilience, heartbreak, and joy within Black performance."--Brit Bennett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half "I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too." Inspired by these few words, spoken by Josephine Baker at the 1963 March on Washington, MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellow and bestselling author Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines--whether it's the twenty-seven seconds in "Gimme Shelter" in which Merry Clayton wails the words "rape, murder," a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt--has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib's own personal history of love, grief, and performance. Touching on Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Billy Dee Williams, the Wu-Tan Clan, Dave Chappelle, and more, Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent. Filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart, A Little Devil in America exalts the Black performance that unfolds in specific moments in time and space--from midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio. WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL AND THE GORDON BURN PRIZE - FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD AND THE PEN/DIAMONSTEIN-SPIELVOGEL AWARD ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, Time, The Boston Globe, NPR, Rolling Stone, Esquire, BuzzFeed, Thrillist, She Reads, BookRiot, BookPage, Electric Lit, The Rumpus, LitHub, Library Journal, Booklist

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781984801197
  • ISBN-10: 1984801198
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: March 2021
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.95 pounds
  • Page Count: 320

Related Categories

A Little Devil in America

Both of Hanif Abdurraqib’s earlier books—They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us and Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest—skillfully weave memoir and cultural criticism. He’s known for unraveling our ideas about music, history and culture and then using threads of commentary and insight to stitch a totally original pattern.

With the same ingenuity, Abdurraqib traces the depth and diversity of Black modes of performance in his brilliant A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance. Opening with an examination of Black dancers who participated in the dance marathons of the early 20th century, Abdurraqib dispenses prose in motions that shuffle forward, step sideways, leap diagonally and waltz gracefully through five sections exploring different facets of Black performance in America.

Performance can be liberating, like when dance marathons give partners “a powerful enough relationship with freedom that you understand its limitations.” It can also provide an opportunity to show off, as in the dance line on “Soul Train.” Performance can demonstrate self-awareness, too—a chance to define yourself by how your body moves when you’re throwing down in a beef, which Abdurraqib vividly illustrates as a kind of performance. He traces the rich history of performance through sketches of Black magicians, dancers and musicians, including Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Josephine Baker, Aretha Franklin and Merry Clayton, who’s most famous for her performance on the Rolling Stones’ track “Gimme Shelter.” Clayton’s chapter may be the best in the book, if only because it gives her the recognition she deserves for her ethereal voice.

A vibrant showcase of sharp writing, Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in America attests that Black performance at its root is not simply an outward show of talent but also a means of survival. Read carefully. Abdurraqib’s book is a challenge not to accept the usual explanations for the performances we witness.

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