Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul?

To commemorate the start of Black History Month, this week's review applies a racial and cultural lens to key pieces of Black art, literature, and popular culture that continue to impact our understanding of the world today

Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? : Essays

McCarthy, Jesse. Liveright, 2021
352p bibl index, 9781631496486 $27.95, 9781324091479 $16.95, 9781631496493

Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? : Essays book cover

Jesse McCarthy’s eclectic, riveting essays are grounded in history and leavened with popular culture. They plumb the joy and pain, the noise and silences created by defining upheavals of the 21st century—mass incarceration, wars on terror and drugs, police shootings, BLM protests, and the aggrieved violence of white redemption. With razor precision and urgency, McCarthy uses a wide lens to “pull radically different intellectual and creative strands closer together.” He deploys this approach to analyze the art of Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, Juan de Pareja, and Kehinde Wiley; contextualize the prose of James Baldwin, John Edgar Wideman, Toni Morrison, Saidiya Hartman, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Mathias Ènard; and explore music by D’Angelo, MC Solaar, Doc Gynéco, Lil Snupe, DJ Smallz Eyes, and Da Real Gee Money. He assesses the politics of Al-Shaitat, David Walker, Unite the Right, Denmark Vesey, and Toussaint Louverture and unpacks the poetry of Ntozake Shange, Sappho, Phillis Wheatley, Claudia Rankine, the Cave Canem Collective, and the Dark Room Collective. Finally, he provides a careful exegesis of work by Fred Moten and Colson Whitehead and delivers a punishing critique of Afropessimism. McCarthy takes readers to Paris, Harlem, Atlanta, and throughout the Black Atlantic to connect trap music to white supremacy and ancient Greek poetry to the Black intellectual tradition.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.
L. D. Baker, Duke University
Subject: Humanities
Choice Issue: Apr 2022

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