Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award in Nonfiction
“The essays in this collection are restless, brilliant and short.... The brevity suits not just Walker’s style but his worldview, too.... Keeping things quick gives him the freedom to move; he can alight on a truth without pinning it into place.” (Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times)
For the Black community, Jerald Walker asserts in How to Make a Slave, “anger is often a prelude to a joke, as there is broad understanding that the triumph over this destructive emotion lay in finding its punchline.” It is on the knife’s edge between fury and farce that the essays in this exquisite collection balance. Whether confronting the medical profession’s racial biases, considering the complicated legacy of Michael Jackson, paying homage to his writing mentor James Alan McPherson, or attempting to break free of personal and societal stereotypes, Walker elegantly blends personal revelation and cultural critique. The result is a bracing and often humorous examination by one of America’s most acclaimed essayists of what it is to grow, parent, write, and exist as a Black American male. Walker refuses to lull his listeners; instead his missives urge them to do better as they consider, through his eyes, how to be a good citizen, how to be a good father, how to live, and how to love.
How to Make a Slave and Other Essaysに寄せられたリスナーの声
Honest and Personal
How to Make a Slave and Other Essays has a lot to say about race, but more to say about just being a person. Walker does not preoccupy himself with trying to make a point or teach a lesson, despite being a professor. Rather, he focuses on being honest about his thoughts and experiences. When dealing with topics like race, it is common for it to become an issue of groups and not individuals. Walker brings in his individuality, his family, his flaws, his achievements.Early in the book, he explains how his mentor urged him away from stereotypes and towards writing about what’s “real”, and what’s real is Walker himself. He deals with very serious subjects, but there is also room in the collection for a healthy amount of humor and levity. Walker is self-aware and unafraid to laugh at himself and the ridiculousness of some of the situations in which he has found himself. When the essays get more serious, Walker maintains the focus on what is real. The issues he deals with are complicated, and he expresses an appropriate and realistic amount of inner conflict and contradictions. He does not pretend to have always had race, fatherhood, or academia figured out, and that helps the reader to feel comfortable reflecting on and processing their own ideas on difficult subjects rather than feel they are being told what to think. How to Make a Slave and Other Essays is a quick, satisfying, and thought-provoking read that I would gladly recommend.