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Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine

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Brief Description:

An extraordinary, exquisitely written memoir (of sorts) that looks at race–in a fearless, penetrating, honest, true way–in twelve telltale, connected, deeply personal essays that explore, up-close, the complexities and paradoxes, the haunting memories and ambushing realities of growing up black in the South with a family name inherited from a white man, of getting a PhD from Yale, of marrying a white man from the North, of adopting two babies from Ethiopia, of teaching at a white college and living in America’s New England today. From the acclaimed editor of Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten (“A major contribution,” Henry Louis Gates; “Magnificent,” Washington Post).

Brief Description:

“Lucid … deeply felt, unflinchingly honest, and openly questioning … [Bernard] illuminates a legacy of storytelling … and elaborates on the relationship between blacks and whites. A rare book of healing.”

Kirkus (starred review)

Review Quotes:

“Of the 12 essays here, there’s not one that even comes close to being forgettable. Bernard’s language is fresh, poetically compact, and often witty … Bernard proves herself to be a revelatory storyteller of race in America who can hold her own with some of those great writers she teaches.”

–Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

“Bernard’s lyrical book details traumas and pain from decades past to interrogate the nuances of her own life: growing up black in the South, marrying a white man from the North, and surviving a violent attack which unleashed the storyteller in her.”

Entertainment Weekly

“Echoes of Joan Didion–terse yet beautiful writing, a bracing honesty–in the graceful new essay collection by Emily Bernard … Black Is the Body marks the debut of an essayist in command of her gifts, a book that belongs beside the best of contemporary autobiography.”

–Hamilton Cain, Chapter 16

“Conceived while the author was hospitalized after being stabbed by a white man, these 13 formidable, destined-to-be-studied essays mark the emergence of an extraordinary voice on race in America.”

Oprah Magazine

“Like the absurdly devastating crime that opens this riveting collection, Bernard’s essays are impossible to turn away from. Linked by the author’s powerful voice and by her experiences of the world–of survival, of falling in love, of interracial marriage and friendship, and of motherhood–each account tells the agonizing story of race in America with realism, nuance, and profound hope. A supremely honest and utterly gripping book.”

–Nell Freudenberger

“Bernard’s honesty and vulnerability reveal a strong voice with no sugarcoating, sharing her struggle, ambivalence, hopes, and fears as an individual within a web of relationships, black and white. Highly recommended.”

Library Journal (starred review)

Review Citations:
  • Shelf Awareness 01/29/2019 (EAN 9780451493026, Hardcover)
  • Publishers Weekly 11/12/2018 (EAN 9780451493026, Hardcover)
  • Kirkus Reviews 11/15/2018 pg. 152 (EAN 9780451493026, Hardcover)
  • Library Journal 12/01/2018 pg. 74 (EAN 9780451493026, Hardcover) – *Starred Review
  • Booklist 02/01/2019 pg. 18 (EAN 9780451493026, Hardcover)
  • Library Journal 12/01/2018 pg. 74 (EAN 9780451493033, Other)

Contributor Bio:  EMILY BERNARD

was born and grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and received her PhD in American studies from Yale University. She has been the recipient of grants from the Ford Foundation, the NEH, and a W. E. B. Du Bois Resident Fellowship at Harvard University. Her essays have been published in journals and anthologies, among them The American Scholar, Best American Essays, and Best African American Essays. She is the Julian Lindsay Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont.

Type

Paperback, Audio, hardcover