February 2020 | MahoganyBooks Adult Bestsellers
#1 – I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying: Essays by Bassey Ikpi
“We will not think or talk about mental health or normalcy the same after reading this momentous art object moonlighting as a colossal collection of essays.” –Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
From her early childhood in Nigeria through her adolescence in Oklahoma, Bassey Ikpi lived with a tumult of emotions, cycling between extreme euphoria and deep depression–sometimes within the course of a single day. By the time she was in her early twenties, Bassey was a spoken word artist and traveling with HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, channeling her life into art. But beneath the façade of the confident performer, Bassey’s mental health was in a precipitous decline, culminating in a breakdown that resulted in hospitalization and a diagnosis of Bipolar II.
In I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying, Bassey Ikpi breaks open our understanding of mental health by giving us intimate access to her own. Exploring shame, confusion, medication, and family in the process, Bassey looks at how mental health impacts every aspect of our lives–how we appear to others, and more importantly to ourselves–and challenges our preconception about what it means to be “normal.” Viscerally raw and honest, the result is an exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are–and the ways, as honest as we try to be, each of these stories can also be a lie.
#2 – Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston
From “one of the greatest writers of our time” (Toni Morrison)–the author of Barracoon and Their Eyes Were Watching God–a collection of remarkable stories, including eight “lost” Harlem Renaissance tales now available to a wide audience for the first time.
In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston–the sole black student at the college–was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.” During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.
#3 – Let the Circle be Unbroken by Marimba Ani
Marimba Ani is an anthropologist and African Studies scholar best known for her work Yurugu, a comprehensive critique of European thought and culture, and her coining of the term “Maafa” for the African holocaust.
In her work Let the Circle Be Unbroken: The Implications of African Spirituality in the Diaspora, Ani examines the African conception of the relationship between spirit and matter.
Let the Circle be Unbroken is a small hand book which examines the African conception of the relationship between spirit and matter. Marimba Ani explains that, for African people, spirit and matter have a symbiotic relationship which must be acknowledged in our political action and organizing as African people.
#4 – Black Labor, White Wealth by Claud Anderson
Dr. Claud Anderson is a successful author who has popularized Black history and is widely recognized as one of America’s most influential intellectuals.
He has drawn the nation’s attention to the issue of race and the advantages of redeveloping and industrializing black communities. Dr. Anderson has a broad and varied base of experiences spanning education, business, national and state politics and successful economic and social reform.
His first book is a classic. It tracks slavery and Jim Crow public policies that used black labor to construct a superpower nation. It details how black people were socially engineered into the lowest level of a real life Monopoly game, which they are neither playing or winning. Black Labor is a comprehensive analysis of the issues of race. Dr. Anderson uses the anaylsis in this book to offer solutions to America’s race problem.
A historical analysis of racism and the problem of Black Americans, the research in this book is the foundation for the solutions formulated in Powernomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America.
#5 – Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.
Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives–but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all–regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability–have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.
Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, finding a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, the subjects of each essay remind us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her book club-turned-online community Well-Read Black Girl, in this anthology Glory Edim has created a space in which black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world and ourselves.