Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the Heartland Prize
A New York Times Notable Book
One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Time, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Time Out New York, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Kansas City Star, Men’s Journal, Oprah.com
Pulitzer Prize–winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson was born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, while her mother was a socialite. In these pages, Jefferson takes us into this insular and discerning society: “I call it Negroland,” she writes, “because I still find ‘Negro’ a word of wonders, glorious and terrible.”
Negroland’s pedigree dates back generations, having originated with antebellum free blacks who made their fortunes among the plantations of the South. It evolved into a world of exclusive sororities, fraternities, networks, and clubs — a world in which skin color and hair texture were relentlessly evaluated alongside scholarly and professional achievements, where the Talented Tenth positioned themselves as a third race between whites and “the masses of Negros,” and where the motto was “Achievement. Invulnerability. Comportment.” At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, Negroland is a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America.
“Provocative and insightful....Melancholic and hopeful, raw and disarming....A moving memoir that is an act of courage in its vulnerability.” Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns
“[A] masterpiece....A phenomenal study-cum-memoir about the black bourgeoisie.” Hilton Als, author of White Girls
“Powerful....Margo Jefferson identifies and deftly explores the tensions that come with being party of America’s black elite.” Roxane Gay, O, The Oprah Magazine
About the Author
The winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, Margo Jefferson was for years a book and arts critic for Newsweek and The New York Times. Her writing has appeared in, among other publications, Vogue, New York magazine, and The Nation, and Guernica. Her memoir, Negroland, received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. She is also the author of On Michael Jackson and is a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts.