October 2019 | MahoganyBooks Adult Bestsellers
#1 – The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
“Ta-nehisi Coates balances the horrors of slavery against the fantastical. He extends the idea of the gifts of the disenfranchised to include a kind of superpower.
Young Hiram Walker was born into bondage–and lost his mother and all memory of her when he was a child–but he is also gifted with a mysterious power. Hiram almost drowns when he crashes a carriage into a river, but is saved from the depths by a force he doesn’t understand, a blue light that lifts him up and lands him a mile away. This strange brush with death forces a new urgency on Hiram’s private rebellion.
Spurred on by his improvised plantation family, Thena, his chosen mother, a woman of few words and many secrets, and Sophia, a young woman fighting her own war even as she and Hiram fall in love, he becomes determined to escape the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey into the covert war on slavery that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North.
Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, all Hiram wants is to return to the Walker Plantation to free the family he left behind–but to do so, he must first master his magical gift and reconstruct the story of his greatest loss.
#2 – How to be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it–and then dismantle it.”
Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.
In this book, Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
#3 – What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker – Damon Young
From the cofounder of VerySmartBrothas.com, and one of the most read writers on race and culture at work today, a provocative and humorous memoir-in-essays that explores the ever-shifting definitions of what it means to be Black (and male) in America
For Damon Young, existing while Black is an extreme sport. The act of possessing black skin while searching for space to breathe in Americais enough to induce a ceaseless state of angst where questions such as “How should I react here, as a professional black person?” and “Will this white person’s potato salad kill me?” are forever relevant.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker chronicles Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him.
It’s a condition that’s sometimes stretched to absurd limits, provoking the angst that made him question if he was any good at the “being straight” thing, as if his sexual orientation was something he could practice and get better at, like a crossover dribble move or knitting; creating the farce where, as a teen, he wished for a white person to call him a racial slur just so he could fight him and have a great story about it; and generating the surreality of watching gentrification transform his Pittsburgh neighborhood from predominantly Black to “Portlandia . . . but with Pierogies.”
#4 – Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
An extraordinary new novel about the influence of history on a contemporary family, from the New York Times-bestselling and National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming.
Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, with the power of poetry and the emotional richness of a narrative ten times its length, Jacqueline Woodson’s extraordinary new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.
As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the soundtrack of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony– a celebration that ultimately never took place.
Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives–even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.
#5 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Dr. Frances Cress Welsing
The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors is a collection of essays by Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, a physician specializing in general and child psychiatry, focusing on the global system of White supremacy and strategies for coping with racism in modern society.
During the course of the struggle of African people against European racism, brutality and domination, many innovative thinkers have risen from our ranks . The greatest and most courageous scholars have devoted their lives to the pursuit of an explanation for the virtually inherent animosity most white people appear to have toward people of color / unlike her predecessors has rejected conventional notions about the origin and perpetuation of racism.
“Most important, Black males must help one another to understand that they are being led by the dynamic of white supremacy to inflict extreme damage upon themselves, one another and ultimately the Black race. Black males must understand that, contrary to what is said, the war being conducted in urban centers is not against drugs but against Black males- for the purpose of white genetic survival.” – Dr. Frances Cress Welsing