“I have fallen so in love with the leaves, who do the duty of making their death beautiful, bursting from otherwise unremarkable branches before the cold browns them and grinds them to dust.”
Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil in America
Hanif Abdurraqib is an award-winning poet, essayist, and cultural critic. A Little Devil in America, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and a National Book Award finalist, is a sweeping “masterpiece” exploring Black art, music, and culture in all their glory and complexity.
“I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too.” Inspired by these words, spoken by Josephine Baker at the 1963 March on Washington, Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. With essays on Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Billy Dee Williams, the Wu-Tang Clan, Dave Chappelle, and more, Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain, filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart. 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.
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, and The Chicago Tribune, and others. Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. Abdurraqib was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2021.
Vulture, September 28, 2021
Gothamist, February 25, 2022
NBC News, March 25, 2022
“A rapturous exploration of Black genius . . . Whether heralding unsung entertainers or reexamining legends, Hanif Abdurraqib weaves together gorgeous essays that reveal the resilience, heartbreak, and joy within Black performance. I read this book breathlessly.”