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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination


Edited by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

As relevant today as when it was first published in 2009, here is a book of essays that asks: What does it mean to have, or to love, a black body? Taking on the challenge of interpreting the black body's dramatic role in American culture are thirty black, white, and biracial contributors—award-winning actors, artists, writers, and comedians—including voices as varied as President Obama's inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander, actor and bestselling author Hill Harper, political strategist Kimball Stroud, television producer Joel Lipman, former Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts, and singer-songwriter Jason Luckett.

Ranging from deeply serious to playful, sometimes hilarious, musings, these essays explore myriad issues with wisdom and a deep sense of history. Meri Nana-Ama Danquah's unprecedented collection illuminates the diversity of identities and individual experiences that define the black body in our culture.

With contributions from Elizabeth Alexander・Stephanie Covington Armstrong・Tonita Austin-Hilley・Anne Beatts・Annie Burrows・Kenneth Carroll・Nzingha Clarke・Meri Nana-Ama Danquah・Werner Disse・Lynell George・David Goldsmith・Hill Harper・Susan Hayden・Carolyn L. Holbrook・Kenji Jasper・Brent Jennings・ A. Van Jordan・Steven Kotler・Joel Lipman・Philip Littell・Jason Luckett・Susan E. Matus・Tajamika Paxton・S. Pearl Sharp・Kimball Stroud・Greg Tate・Kenny White・Gail Wronsky・Yolanda Young


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“ "An intimate collection of thoughts about a subject which too often causes people to retreat across distances seemingly too wide to cross." ”

“| "Danquah's literary libation to the Black body consists of a collaboration of folks—Black, White, and both—all of whom seek to convey what it's like to live in one, be a part of one, and be affected by one. Before opening The Black Body, I already had preconceived notions of how I thought it would read, considering the fact that I have a Black body, myself. I should have known better. It wasn't necessarily the topics covered that surprised me, but the way in which they were interpreted and the eloquence with which some of the authors conveyed the subject.”

“| "Meri Danquah has taken the race debate to another level, deeper and more provocative than we've gone before.”

“This singularly brave book recounts with poignancy, wit, and fierce passion the ways that Americans, black and white, have come to understand the black body. These are exquisite stories of what it is to see, and love, and to be seen, and be loved. They make an utterly compelling collection.”

“| "Meri Nana-Ama Danquah's The Black Body is a bold, cutting-edge and ultimately uplifting anthology destined to become a classic in African-American literature. There is a hunger for redemption in these ethereal essays which is triumphant.”


Meri Nana-Ama Danquah’s books include the groundbreaking memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression and two critically acclaimed anthologies, Becoming American and Shaking the Tree. Danquah earned an MFA in creative writing and literature from Bennington College and currently divides her time between Los Angeles and Accra, Ghana.