Tue April 13, 2021

Jesse McCarthy

Discussing his new book, Who Will Pay Reparation On My Soul: Essays, published by Liveright Books/W.W. Norton.

Ranging from Ta-Nehisi Coates's case for reparations to D'Angelo's simmering blend of R&B and racial justice, Jesse McCarthy's dazzling essays capture debates at the intersection of art, literature, and politics in the twenty-first century with virtuosic intensity.

In "Notes on Trap," McCarthy borrows a conceit from Susan Sontag to dissect the significance of trap music in American society, while in "The Master's Tools," Velázquez becomes a lens through which to view Kehinde Wiley's paintings. Essays on John Edgar Wideman, Terrance Hayes, and Claudia Rankine survey the state of black letters. In "The Time of the Assassins," McCarthy, a black American raised in France, writes about returning to Paris after the Bataclan massacre and finding a nation in mourning but dangerously unchanged. Taken together, these essays portray a brilliant critic at work, making sense of our dislocated times while seeking to transform our understanding of race and art, identity and representation.

Jesse McCarthy is assistant professor of English and African American studies at Harvard University. He is an editor at the Point and has written for n+1, Dissent, the Nation, and the New Republic. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Discussing his new book, Who Will Pay Reparation On My Soul: Essays, published by Liveright Books/W.W. Norton.

Ranging from Ta-Nehisi Coates's case for reparations to D'Angelo's simmering blend of R&B and racial justice, Jesse McCarthy's dazzling essays capture debates at the intersection of art, literature, and politics in the twenty-first century with virtuosic intensity.

In "Notes on Trap," McCarthy borrows a conceit from Susan Sontag to dissect the significance of trap music in American society, while in "The Master's Tools," Velázquez becomes a lens through which to view Kehinde Wiley's paintings. Essays on John Edgar Wideman, Terrance Hayes, and Claudia Rankine survey the state of black letters. In "The Time of the Assassins," McCarthy, a black American raised in France, writes about returning to Paris after the Bataclan massacre and finding a nation in mourning but dangerously unchanged. Taken together, these essays portray a brilliant critic at work, making sense of our dislocated times while seeking to transform our understanding of race and art, identity and representation.

Jesse McCarthy is assistant professor of English and African American studies at Harvard University. He is an editor at the Point and has written for n+1, Dissent, the Nation, and the New Republic. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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  • Tue Apr 13 (6pm)
City Lights Bookstore 12 Upcoming Events
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133

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