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A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

A stirring meditation on Black performance in America from the New York Times bestselling author of Go Ahead in the Rain

At the March on Washington in 1963, Josephine Baker was fifty-seven years old, well beyond her most prolific days. But in her speech she was in a mood to consider her life, her legacy, her departure from the country she was now triumphantly returning to. “I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too,” she told the crowd. Inspired by these few words, Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines—whether it’s the twenty-seven seconds in “Gimme Shelter” in which Merry Clayton wails the words “rape, murder,” a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt—has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib’s own personal history of love, grief, and performance.

Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain, infused with the lyricism and rhythm of the musicians he loves. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent. Filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart, A Little Devil in America exalts the Black performance that unfolds in specific moments in time and space—from midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio.

Titulo:A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
Idioma de edición:English
ISBN:9781984801197
Tipo de formato:



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Acerca de Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in


    A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance Comentarios

  • Traci at The Stacks

    These essays are so damn good. The sentences are gorgeous. The arguments are unique. Also he’s writing about music and dance and culture moments in this way thats so rich and evocative. Which I thin...

  • Steve Haruch

    If you know, you know. So when I say this book is Hanif doing Hanif things, that means the personal is both the political and the poetic — a lens through which, at a dizzying number of focal lengths...

  • Michelle P.

    “...there is no church like the church of unchained arms being thrown in every direction…”This is my first time reading Hanif Abdurraqib and I am absolutely BLOWN AWAY.I have already added all o...

  • jeremy

    and no one knows what to make of this, really. what to do when someone has committed themselves to sympathy, but not to mercy. collecting over twenty pieces essayistic and autobiographical, hanif a...

  • Julia

    Simply put this collection of essays by Hanif Abdurraqib is spectacular. A five star read so bright, it's blinding. It is unapologetically and blatantly Black. A collection filled with the emotion an...

  • Tessimo Mahuta

    Absolute brilliance. Again....

  • Caleb Bollenbacher

    Absolutely incredible, required reading. A worthy successor to They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us. ...

  • brenda

    If, as Basquiat said, art is how we decorate space and music is how we decorate time, then perhaps writing is how we decorate memory. And no one’s writing does that quite the way Hanif Abdurraqib’...

  • Krista

    Gifted writers can make prose shine like poetry. Abdurraqib is such a writer. Each word feels precisely plucked to convey deep emotions that register the weight of history as well as introspection. He...

  • Jessica Cunningham

    Whew. This book. This book is masquerading as a book of essays, when it is a love letter to a people. It is a song, a poem, and a dance.I ate this book up slowly. Because as much as I wanted to devour...

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