Synopses & Reviews
Brave, clear-eyed, and passionate, Stakes Is High is the book we need to guide us past crisis mode and through an uncertain future.
The 2016 election forced us to reckon with who we are and who we want to be. We have been invested in a set of beliefs about our American identity: our exceptionalism, the inevitable rightness of our path, and the promise that hard work and determination will carry us to freedom. But in Stakes Is High, Mychal Denzel Smith confronts the shortcomings of these stories — and with the American Dream itself — and calls on us to live up to the principles we profess but fail to realize.
Smith exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life, holding all of us, individually and as a nation, to account. We've gotten used to looking away, but the fissures and casual violence — of incarceration, poverty, misogyny, and racism — are ever-present.
But there is a future that is not as grim as our past. In this profound work, Smith helps us envision it, with care, honesty, and imagination.
"An urgent and provocative work that deserves the broadest
possible audience." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[H]olding up a mirror to America in the hope that a clear-eyed glimpse of
its failings will assist in the never-ending struggle to bring about the
righteous nation it has always aspired to be." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Stakes Is High is that rare book written before the pandemic that
predicts the American response to the pandemic and also provides a
soulful, rigorous way out of the destruction. Mychal Denzel Smith is the
rarest of tenacious writers who remind us that the only way into a
dignified free future is backwards. And our refusal to go walk back
together makes the stakes highest for the most vulnerable children of
tomorrow." Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
About the Author
Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of the
New York Times bestseller
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching (2016) and the forthcoming
Stakes Is High (2020). His work has appeared, online and print, in the
New York Times,
Harper's, Artforum, Oxford American,
Playboy, Bleacher Report, The Nation,
The Atlantic, Pitchfork, Bookforum, and a number of other
publications. He has appeared on The Daily Show, PBS Newshour, Democracy
NOW!, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and more
national and local radio/television programs. He is featured in and was a
consulting producer for "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story," the
Paramount Network docuseries executive produced by Jay-Z. In 2014 and
2016, TheRoot.com named him one of the 100 Most Influential
African-Americans in their annual The Root 100 list. He was also a 2017
NAACP Image Award Nominee. He is a fellow at Type Media Center. You can
follow him on Twitter at @mychalsmith.