November 22, 2021 9:25 AM EST

In his debut essay collection, Jesse McCarthy, an assistant professor of English and African and African American studies at Harvard University, explores the relationship between culture, politics and race. The 20 pieces range in subject, from the titular essay in which McCarthy examines and responds to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ viral 2014 article “A Case for Reparations” to a reflection on what it was like growing up as a Black American in France. Some pieces are celebratory while others are more critical, but they all showcase the urgency of McCarthy’s voice. Writing in electric prose, he underlines important questions about equality and representation, often experimenting with form to create a bold new work of cultural criticism.

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