The Black literary world seems to be having a bit of a renaissance in the 2020s. And there are a number of thoughtful, interesting, and compelling nonfiction books written by new and veteran Black authors who have specifically emerged this year. It is important to continuously explore Black writing and the perspectives of Black reality so that our culture does not only move forward with regard to finding a footing in the very white and competitive publishing world, but also to maintain purposeful discourse amongst ourselves and with non-white human beings who are willing to delve deeply into our imaginative, complex and nostalgic experiences so that we can have greater understanding and equality.
“Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture” finds ways to celebrate Black history in a manner that does not focus on or glorify slavery and oppression. Author Badia Ahad-Legardy finds unique ways to explore the beauty, positivity, and triumph of people descended from Africa, creating an archival collection of visual art and culture, literature and performance to demonstrate how the Black experience is not just a depressing string of incidents that drives us through our lives. The book’s publisher, University of Illinois, describes the book, “‘Afro-Nostalgia’ emerges as an expression of Black romantic recollection that creates and inspires good feelings even within our darkest moments.”
A romantic take on Blackness is something that is deeply needed in these perilous times of police brutality and fear-mongering media that only reveals the struggles and discrimination of Black people. “Afro-Nostalgia” attempts to challenge the constant influx of troubling images and depictions of Black pain, and highlights the good side of Black contemporary culture. The effort is appreciated and out-of-the-box.
Writer and activist Salamishah Tillet explores their nostalgia for the essential literary text, “The Color Purple.” Tillet was 15 years old when they read Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning book, and consequently, they wrote a book that is part cultural criticism, part history, and memoir titled “In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece.” The book contains interviews with Alice Walker herself along with Oprah Winfrey and others that accompany her archival research, which explores Walker’s early work and allows Tillet to connect their personal experiences with “The Color Purple” as a sexual assault survivor. The book “captures Alice Walker’s seminal role in rethinking sexuality, intersectional feminism, and racial and gender politics.”
You can purchase “Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture” and “In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece” wherever books are sold online and in stores.