BOOK CLUB PICKS

January Book Selections

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Contemporary Fiction

The Rib King by Ladee Hubbard

Elegantly written and exhaustively researched, The Rib King is an unsparing examination of America’s fascination with black iconography and exploitation that redefines African American stereotypes in literature. In this powerful, disturbing, and timely novel, Ladee Hubbard reveals who people actually are, and most importantly, who and what they are not.

 

Available January 19, 2021

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Nonfiction

White Tears Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad

For readers of White Fragility, White Tears/Brown Scars is an explosive book of history and cultural criticism that argues that white feminism, from Australia to Zimbabwe to the United States, has been a weapon of white supremacy and patriarchy deployed against black and indigenous women, and women of color.

 

Discussing subjects as varied as The Hunger Games, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the viral "BBQ Becky" video, and 19th century lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest, Ruby Hamad undertakes a new investigation of gender and race. She shows how the division between innocent white women and racialized, sexualized women of color was created, and why this division is crucial to confront.

Along the way are revelatory responses to questions such as: Why are white men not troubled by sexual assault of women? With rigor and precision, Hamad builds a powerful argument about the legacy of white superiority we are socialized in, a reality we must apprehend in order to fight.

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Classic Fiction

Jubilee by Margatet Walker

Jubilee tells the true story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and one of his black slaves. Vyry bears witness to the South’s antebellum opulence and to its brutality, its wartime ruin, and the promises of Reconstruction. Weaving her own family’s oral history with thirty years of research, Margaret Walker’s novel brings the everyday experiences of slaves to light. Jubilee churns with the hunger, the hymns, the struggles, and the very breath of American history.

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Long-Term Read

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

 

As historian Edward Baptist reveals in The Half Has Never Been Told, the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a continental cotton empire, and the United States grew into a modern, industrial, and capitalist economy. Until the Civil War, Baptist explains, the most important American economic innovations were ways to make slavery ever more profitable. Through forced migration and torture, slave owners extracted continual increases in efficiency from enslaved African Americans. Thus the United States seized control of the world market for cotton, the key raw material of the Industrial Revolution, and became a wealthy nation with global influence.

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