Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER New York Times: 100 Notable Books of 2015 New York Times: Dwight Garner's Best Books of 2015 Washington Post: 10 Best Books of 2015 Los Angeles Times: 31 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 Marie Claire: Best Books of 2015 Vanity Fair: Best Book Gifts of 2015 TIME Best Books of 2015 At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac—here is a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author's rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned with distancing itself from whites and the black generality while tirelessly measuring itself against both.
Born in upper-crust black Chicago—her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation's oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite—Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, "a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty."
Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments—the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America—Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Aware as it is of heart-wrenching despair and depression, this book is a triumphant paean to the grace of perseverance. (With 8 pages of black-and-white photographs.) From the Hardcover edition.