Between the World and Me
Readers familiar with Ta-Nehisi Coates from his thorough, insightful reporting for the Atlantic may not be fully prepared for the uncategorizable tour-de-force that is Between the World and Me. The slender volume is structured as a letter to Coates's teenage son and, while it benefits from the same keen mix of history, sociology and rhetoric that produced Coates's masterful piece "The Case for Reparations," this is as personal as a published work can be. Sprawling, discursive, angry, relevant, lyrical, Between the World and Me uses prose that recalls David Bradley's The Chaneysville Incident in its ferocious beauty.
Coates addresses matters of race at a time when young black men continue to die at the hands of police officers with disturbing regularity. His central thesis is deeply unsettling: "There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy." His argument is as rhetorically sound as it is passionately delivered--an unrelentingly frank work expressed so perfectly that the truth of it resonates with every word. His 2015 National Book Award and MacArthur "genius" grant underscore his brilliance. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books