How to Make a Slave and Other Essays Summary and Reviews

How to Make a Slave and Other Essays

by Jerald Walker

How to Make a Slave and Other Essays by Jerald Walker X
How to Make a Slave and Other Essays by Jerald Walker
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Book Summary

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 readers; 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.

Longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award in Nonfiction.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] stylish and thought-provoking collection of reflections...Walker's rich compilation adds up to a rewardingly insightful self-portrait that reveals how one man relates to various aspects of his identity." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Powerful...Crafted with honesty and wry comedic flair, these essays are both engaging and enraging." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"These aren't essays. This is hypnosis, a spell of enchantment cast over the reader by a masterful writer whose crystal-clear vision is not only original but revelatory. I laughed out loud, nodded at Jerald Walker's delivery of so much truth, and just shook my head at how gracefully he achieves so much so quickly in every piece in How to Make a Slave. All I can say is, 'Wow.' And you can't just consume one; you'll find yourself gobbling down every essay here and hungering for more. No one—absolutely no one—I've read is writing better than Jerald Walker about race, being black, and the depths and complexities of our humanity." - Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage, winner of the National Book Award

"This piercing and restless collection slices through this country's agitated racial landscape with the tenacity of a thunderbolt. Walker manages to be all of us—we are all the college English department's pet token, we are all the potential Whole Foods crime wave, we are all the Negro middle American agonizing over a return trip to the implosive inner city from whence we came. These fresh, revelatory snippets of black life deserve a rollicking collective Amen! and an audience of both the converted and the curious." - Patricia Smith, author of Incendiary Art

"If there is a book you need to read as our country is about to devour itself, it is How to Make a Slave. Walker's sharp voice cuts through the social malaise of our culture, delivering intimate moments of his life—from a boy in South Chicago to a young student writer trying to find voice amid a myriad of black stereotypes to a father raising two boys in a divided country. These essays enlighten us through depth and complexity of thought and the veracity of experience." - Ira Sukrungruang, author of Buddha's Dog and Other Meditations

This information about How to Make a Slave and Other Essays shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jerald Walker

Jerald Walker is the author of The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult and Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, winner of the 2011 PEN New England Award for Nonfiction. He has published in magazines such as Creative Nonfiction, Harvard Review, Missouri Review, River Teeth, Mother Jones, Iowa Review, and Oxford American, and he has been widely anthologized, including five times in The Best American Essays. The recipient of James A. Michener and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, Walker is Professor of Creative Writing at Emerson College.

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