In Wandering in Strange Lands, Morgan Jerkins invites her reader along on a journey, both figurative and literal, to better understand her lineage and the ways in which the displacement of Black people across America still resonates generations later. Her brave, inquisitive nature and openness to whatever truths she may encounter — the welcome ones, the uncomfortable ones, the ones for which there is no written record — make for an absolutely captivating read. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by ELLE, Buzzfeed
, Esquire, Bitch Media
, Good Housekeeping
, Electric Literature
, and BookRiot
“One of the smartest young writers of her generation.” Book Riot
From the acclaimed cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author of This Will Be My Undoing — a writer whom Roxane Gay has hailed as “a force to be reckoned with” — comes this powerful story of her journey to understand her northern and southern roots, the Great Migration, and the displacement of black people across America.
Between 1916 and 1970, six million black Americans left their rural homes in the South for jobs in cities in the North, West, and Midwest in a movement known as The Great Migration. But while this event transformed the complexion of America and provided black people with new economic opportunities, it also disconnected them from their roots, their land, and their sense of identity, argues Morgan Jerkins. In this fascinating and deeply personal exploration, she recreates her ancestors’ journeys across America, following the migratory routes they took from Georgia and South Carolina to Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California.
Following in their footsteps, Jerkins seeks to understand not only her own past, but the lineage of an entire group of people who have been displaced, disenfranchised, and disrespected throughout our history. Through interviews, photos, and hundreds of pages of transcription, Jerkins braids the loose threads of her family’s oral histories, which she was able to trace back 300 years, with the insights and recollections of black people she met along the way — the tissue of black myths, customs, and blood that connect the bones of American history.
Incisive and illuminating, Wandering in Strange Lands is a timely and enthralling look at America’s past and present, one family’s legacy, and a young black woman’s life, filtered through her sharp and curious eyes.
“...forthright and informative account....Readers will be moved by this brave and inquisitive book.” Publishers Weekly
“A thrilling, emotional, and engaging ride that almost commands the reader to turn the page, Wandering in Strange Lands is required reading, accurately widening the lens of American history.” Booklist (Starred Review)
"For a long time, Jerkins’ family chose to look forward, not back. But what she found when she finally did retrace their steps was her true self. It had not been forgotten; it was just waiting to be discovered." Bust Magazine
About the Author
Morgan Jerkins is an associate editor at Catapult whose work has been featured in The New Yorker, Vogue, the New York Times, The Atlantic, Elle, Rolling Stone, Lenny, and BuzzFeed, among many others. She lives in New York.