PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewFrom its title on, The Sellout so clearly and gleefully means to offend that any offense taken suggests we aren’t as comfortable with race or ourselves as we wish to be .... Beatty’s novel breaks open the private jokes and secrets of blackness (one of which is that Being Black Is Fun) in a way that feels powerful and profane and that manages not to be escapist ... If not a classic, The Sellout is destined to be a really good cult jam. It’s a post-soul parody, trying to feel more like the skits between songs than the song itself.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American TragedyTa-Nehisi Coates
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWith some quarters seeing the 2008 election less as a promise than as a threat, Obama’s achievement proves to be both a milestone and a millstone. The same might be said of Coates’s ascension as an important critic, if not the important critic, of our time … Eight Years could have settled for being the obligatory miscellany that too often follows a writer’s masterpiece; instead, the book provides a master class on the essay form. Structured as a call and response between eight of his most significant articles and briefer, more personal essays arranged by year, Coates gives us something between a mixtape and a Künstlerroman, demonstrating how he came to dominate the nonfiction genre … It is the record of his struggle as a writer that is of great interest here. As in Baldwin, the struggle of the writing dovetails with the struggle of the race. This becomes clearest in his 2014 essay ‘The Case for Reparations,’ which became Coates’s calling card, and rightly so.