SHINE BRIGHT, by Smith NOTE: Meeting Online

A Seat at the Table
Sunday, March 19, 3:30 pm

A Seat At The Table Book Group is here to explore the depth of black women within literature. This group is for anyone and everyone who wants to read the works of black women across genre lines.The group is lead by Morgan Harding with Politics and Prose and meets online on 3rd Sunday of the month at 3:30 p.m. ET. Participants limited to 20 sign ups. For info to join in the book discussion, please email bookgroups@politics-prose.com

Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop By Danyel Smith Cover Image

Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop (Paperback)

$18.00


Coming Soon—Pre-Order Now
American pop music is arguably this country’s greatest cultural contribution to the world, and its singular voice and virtuosity were created by a shining thread of Black women geniuses stretching back to the country’s founding. This is their surprising, heartbreaking, soaring story—from “one of the generation’s greatest, most insightful, most nuanced writers in pop culture” (Shea Serrano)

“Sparkling . . . the overdue singing of a Black girl’s song, with perfect pitch . . . delicious to read.”—Oprah Daily

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, The Root, Variety, Esquire, The Guardian, Newsweek, Pitchfork, She Reads, Publishers Weekly

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD


A weave of biography, criticism, and memoir, Shine Bright is Danyel Smith’s intimate history of Black women’s music as the foundational story of American pop. Smith has been writing this history for more than five years. But as a music fan, and then as an essayist, editor (Vibe, Billboard), and podcast host (Black Girl Songbook), she has been living this history since she was a latchkey kid listening to “Midnight Train to Georgia” on the family stereo. 

Smith’s detailed narrative begins with Phillis Wheatley, an enslaved woman who sang her poems, and continues through the stories of Mahalia Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, and Mariah Carey, as well as the under-considered careers of Marilyn McCoo, Deniece Williams, and Jody Watley. 

Shine Bright
is an overdue paean to musical masters whose true stories and genius have been hidden in plain sight—and the book Danyel Smith was born to write.
Danyel Smith is an author, award-winning journalist, and producer. She’s the creator and host the Spotify-exclusive Black Girl Songbook, a music and talk show that centers black women in music. A 2021 Yaddo Fellow, Danyel was a senior producer and editor at ESPN, and a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford, where she cofounded HRDCVR, an innovative hardcover culture magazine. In addition to writing for NPR, The California Sunday Magazine, The New Yorker, Teen Vogue, and The New York Times, Danyel has served as editor of Billboard, editor at large at Time Inc., and editor in chief of Vibe. The author of two novels—More Like Wrestling (2003), and Bliss (2005)—Danyel lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Elliott Wilson.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593132739
ISBN-10: 0593132734
Publisher: Roc Lit 101
Publication Date: February 14th, 2023
Pages: 336
Language: English
“Memoir, criticism, and cultural history meet in this masterful study of the brilliant Black women who shaped American pop music . . . In this soulful, enriching portrait of these extraordinary artists’ struggles and triumphs, Smith widens the canon to usher in new luminaries.”Esquire, “The Best Books of Spring 2022”
 
“From Phyllis Wheatley to Mahalia Jackson to Dionne Warwick, this captivating examination of Black women in music doesn’t miss a beat. Endlessly readable, Shine Bright calls overdue attention to the groundbreaking women who made American music.”Ms. Magazine, “April 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us”
 
“An enriching and entertaining book about the Black women geniuses who shaped pop music.”Business Insider
 
“Black women have been writing hits that shape American and international culture for generations. It’s more than time for us to celebrate, showcase, and learn the histories of women who made our worlds brighter and more meaningful with their songs. This is an intimate ode to musical genius throughout history.”Buzzfeed

“Rarely has a narrator been so perfectly matched to her subject. A lyrical, long-overdue feat of personal memory, cultural history, synthesis, and love.”—Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste and The Warmth of Other Suns

“Danyel Smith’s ‘voice’ is as vibrant, knowing, and evocatively joyous as that of the singers she writes about.”—Paula J. Giddings, author of When and Where I Enter

“Dazzling . . . Smith, in celebrating the legacies of seminal Black women in pop music, has cemented her own legacy as one of the generation’s greatest, most insightful, most nuanced writers in pop culture. Shine Bright is wonderful.”—Shea Serrano, author of Hip-Hop (And Other Things)

“This book is revelatory about the specific experiences of Black women in music . . . These are chapters full of heart and wonder.”—Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

“Riveting and rapturous, searingly candid and unstoppably audacious . . .”—Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution

“Danyel Smith paints the big picture of Black women’s central role in American music by making sure every detail is perfectly rendered. A landmark work as personal as it is profound.”—Ann Powers, author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music

“In this fascinating tribute, Smith ensures that the achievements of these Black women musicians will not be forgotten.”Library Journal (starred review)

“[A] masterful examination of the Black women artists who’ve indelibly shaped American popular music . . . This lyrical and whip-smart work is a cause for celebration.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

NOBODYS MAGIC, by Birdsong NOTE: Meeting Online

A Seat at the Table
Sunday, February 19, 3:30 pm

A Seat At The Table Book Group is here to explore the depth of black women within literature. This group is for anyone and everyone who wants to read the works of black women across genre lines.The group is lead by Morgan Harding with Politics and Prose and meets online on 3rd Sunday of the month at 3:30 p.m. ET. Participants limited to 20 sign ups. For info to join in the book discussion, please email bookgroups@politics-prose.com

Nobody's Magic By Destiny O. Birdsong Cover Image

Nobody's Magic (Paperback)

$18.99


In Stock—Click for Locations
Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
5 on hand, as of Feb 3 5:20pm
Politics and Prose at Union Market
1 on hand, as of Feb 3 5:33pm

“The magic here is not the supernatural kind, but rather an attention to the grace of the ordinary. It is the magic of watching these women come into their power.”—New York Times

“There's romance and a familial drama and examinations of identity, and though there's nothing quite supernatural, it creates a magic entirely its own.” – Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here


A GMA Buzz Pick! / A Most Anticipated Book by Essence · The Millions · Atlantic Journal Constitution · Bustle · BookPage · Nashville Scene · Ms. Magazine · Parnassus Musing / A Best Book of February by Washington Post · Nylon · BookRiot

In this glittering triptych novel, Suzette, Maple and Agnes, three Black women with albinism, call Shreveport, Louisiana home. At the bustling crossroads of the American South and Southwest, these three women find themselves at the crossroads of their own lives.   

Suzette, a pampered twenty-year‑old, has been sheltered from the outside world since a dangerous childhood encounter. Now, a budding romance with a sweet mechanic allows Suzette to seek independence, which unleashes dark reactions in those closest to her. In discovering her autonomy, Suzette is forced to decide what she is willing to sacrifice in order to make her own way in the world.

Maple is reeling from the unsolved murder of her free‑spirited mother. She flees the media circus and her judgmental grandmother by shutting herself off from the world in a spare room of the motel where she works. One night, at a party, Maple connects with Chad, someone who may understand her pain more than she realizes, and she discovers that the key to her mother's death may be within her reach.

Agnes is far from home, working yet another mind‑numbing job. She attracts the interest of a lonely security guard and army veteran who’s looking for a traditional life for himself and his young son. He’s convinced that she wields a certain “magic,” but Agnes soon unleashes a power within herself that will shock them both and send her on a trip to confront not only her family and her past, but also herself.
 
This novel, told in three parts, is a searing meditation on grief, female strength, and self‑discovery set against a backdrop of complicated social and racial histories. Nobody's Magic is a testament to the power of family—the ones you're born in and the ones you choose. And in these three narratives, among the yearning and loss, each of these women may find a seed of hope for the future.

Destiny O. Birdsong’s writing has appeared in The Paris Review, African American Review, and Catapult, among other publications. She has received the Academy of American Poets Prize and the Richard G. Peterson Poetry Prize. Her critically‑acclaimed debut collection of poems, Negotiations, was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Voelcker Award and published by Tin House Books.

Product Details ISBN: 9781538721407
ISBN-10: 1538721406
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 10th, 2023
Pages: 384
Language: English
“The magic here is not the supernatural kind, but rather an attention to the grace of the ordinary. It is the magic of watching these women come into their power.”—New York Times

“Birdsong’s novel is a searing meditation on grief, female strength and self-discovery and is perfect for fans of the film Moonlight by Barry Jenkins.”—Good Morning America, GMA Buzz Pick

"With voices that are appealingly modern and distinct, the three women face hardships complicated by a history of racial and social injustice."—The Washington Post

“A powerful portrait of womanhood and the beautiful mess that comes along with it…. It’s a stunning read.”—Associated Press

“Destiny O. Birdsong brings poetic beauty to her first novel, Nobody’s Magic… The book is a feat of voice and storytelling.”—Shondaland

“[Birdsong] hasn’t just written good stories, but searing ones with unforgettable characters. These three women are so distinct and real they will undoubtedly be remembered by readers years later, the hallmark of iconic characters. Readers will come to love and know these three women so deeply, they’ll immediately recognize Nobody’s Magic’s characters if they see a Suzette & Maple & Agnes t-shirt—and likely want one, too.”—Chicago Review of Books

“Hopeful and powerful."—Ms. Magazine

"Birdsong imbues the characters with palpable emotions and crafts spot-on dialogue, conveying vernacular speech with layers of pathos and wit. It’s a stunning achievement."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"A thoughtful examination of a subject rarely addressed in contemporary literature."—Kirkus

"Birdsong is a masterful storyteller with a powerful voice that will keep readers captivated."—Booklist (Starred Review)

“Masterfully crafted… Nobody’s Magic is worth reading simply to spend time with these women, but the thoughtful and unexpected way that Birdsong combines their three unique stories into one is what makes the book unforgettable.”—BookPage

“The characters personalities are so distinct and written so realistically, you’ll feel like you’ve been invited into a friend’s life, and you’re rooting for them to make it.”—BookRiot

"With Nobody’s Magic, Destiny Birdsong has given us a devastatingly beautiful, sexy, searing gift. I fell in love with the women Birdsong conjured so brilliantly. These are stunning, irresistible stories of Southern Black womanhood that I will return to again and again."

Deesha Philyaw, author of National Book Award 2020 finalist The Secret Life of Church Ladies

“From the very first page of Nobody’s Magic, when I could hear the voice of the protagonist as if she was sitting next to me, I knew I was in the hands of a confident, one-of-a-kind storyteller. Here is a world full of complex, memorable characters who feel real, with stories unlike any I’ve read before. Destiny O. Birdsong has a gift; how lucky we are as readers to benefit from it.”—Angela Flournoy, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of The Turner House

"The women of Nobody's Magic are unforgettable. These are deeply moving stories of love and longing, mourning and discovery, getting unstuck and moving toward freedom. Birdsong captures the unexpected grace of everyday life in sharp, vibrant prose, and the power of these characters—their courage and willingness to reinvent themselves—stayed with me long after the last page."—Naima Coster, New York Times bestselling author of What's Mine and Yours

Nobody's Magic is a captivating triptych of three unforgettable women. Each of their voices will ring in my memory for a long time—they have so much to say of love, loss, desire, and the city that knows them best. Together, their perspectives illuminate a prismatic portrait of how possible it is to feel intimately bound and a stranger to the places that have created you, and the people you call home."—Melissa Febos, National bestselling author of Girlhood

Nobody's Magic is an ironic title because Destiny O. Birdsong's prose is, in fact, magical. The character's wisecracks are as delicious as a po' boy, the situations are textured and sticky as the southern heat, and the histories are as thick as the bayou. We, as an audience, are ever so lucky to be along for the ride.”—Morgan Jerkins, New York Times bestselling author of Caul Baby

“As with Destiny Birdsong’s poetry, the stories in Nobody’s Magic are striking and original, full of down-home hilarity, Black love, truth, grief, and the sometimes-uncertain roads one travels to accept the self. Birdsong’s is a powerful voice I’d follow anywhere.”—Dantiel W. Moniz, author of Milk Blood Heat

"Nobody’s Magic will strike the tender parts of your heart and you will never forget the trio of vulnerable, fierce women at its center—Suzette, Maple and Agnes.  This is the real Black South—Shreveport, Louisiana conjured in both surprising and familiar ways—Black women discovering secrets, reclaiming themselves and leading the way. This book left a lasting impression on me long after the pages were closed. Destiny Birdsong is a powerful storyteller. An impressive debut!"—Crystal Wilkinson, author of Perfect Black

“Destiny O. Birdsong is so amazing at creating distinct voices and experiences, even as she weaves common threads through all of the stories. There's romance and a familial drama and examinations of identity, and though there's nothing quite supernatural, it creates a magic entirely its own.”—Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here

"Bold."—Nylon

“The region is vividly portrayed, the voices so startlingly real you’ll think the characters are sitting right next to you. Sexy, gritty, unapologetic, this one will be talked about all year.”—Parnassus Musing

“Birdsong’s prose sings with a poet’s sensibility, so each story is carried along with pitch-perfect rhythm and nuanced understanding of human foibles. In the end, Agnes, Suzette, and Maple are true to themselves, stepping into their own power and defying predictable solutions.”—Chapter 16/Humanities Tennessee

“Reading Negotiations is like walking into a boxing match with an indefatigable fighter; you will be struck, and it will hurt. But for all of its ferocity in how it grapples with womanhood, sexuality, assault, and race, this collection is also full of wonder. Of forgiveness. Of tenderness, the like of which, ultimately, delivers the most powerful sucker punch.”—Elizabeth Acevedo, National Book Award winning author of The Poet X (praise for Negotiations)

IN EVERY MIRROR SHES BLACK by Ákínmádé Åkerström NOTE: Meeting Online

A Seat at the Table
Sunday, January 15, 3:30 pm

A Seat At The Table Book Group is here to explore the depth of black women within literature. This group is for anyone and everyone who wants to read the works of black women across genre lines.The group is lead by Morgan Harding with Politics and Prose and meets online on 3rd Sunday of the month at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Participants limited to 20 sign ups. For info to join in the book discussion, please email bookgroups@politics-prose.com

In Every Mirror She's Black: A Novel By Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström Cover Image

In Every Mirror She's Black: A Novel (Paperback)

$16.99


In Stock—Click for Locations
Politics and Prose at 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW
1 on hand, as of Feb 3 5:20pm
Politics and Prose at 70 District Square SW
1 on hand, as of Feb 3 5:33pm
Politics and Prose at Union Market
1 on hand, as of Feb 3 5:33pm

A Good Morning America Buzz Pick!

As seen in Vulture, Essence, Good Morning America, The Independent, Goodreads, PureWow, and many more!

"A sexy, surprising, searing debut about love, loss, desire, and the many dimensions of Black womanhood."—Deesha Philyaw, 2020 National Book Award Finalist & award-winning author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

An arresting debut for anyone looking for insight into what it means to be a Black woman in the world.

Three Black women are linked in unexpected ways to the same influential white man in Stockholm as they build their new lives in the most open society run by the most private people.

Successful marketing executive Kemi Adeyemi is lured from the U.S. to Sweden by Jonny von Lundin, CEO of the nation's largest marketing firm, to help fix a PR fiasco involving a racially tone-deaf campaign. A killer at work but a failure in love, Kemi's move is a last-ditch effort to reclaim her social life.

A chance meeting with Jonny in business class en route to the U.S. propels former model-turned-flight-attendant Brittany-Rae Johnson into a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege—a life she's not sure she wants—as the object of his unhealthy obsession.

And refugee Muna Saheed, who lost her entire family, finds a job cleaning the toilets at Jonny's office as she works to establish her residency in Sweden and, more importantly, seeks connection and a place she can call home.

Told through the perspectives of each of the three women, In Every Mirror She's Black is a fast-paced, richly nuanced yet accessible contemporary novel that touches on important social issues of racism, classism, fetishization, and tokenism, and what it means to be a Black woman navigating a white-dominated society.

Praise for In Every Mirror She's Black:

"In Every Mirror She's Black is a wise and complicated exploration of the lives of three Black women in America and Sweden. Lola Akinmade Åkerström offers a sharply written story with messy, deeply moving characters, raising brutal questions and steering clear of easy answers. A book that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page."

Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six and Malibu Rising

"In Every Mirror She's Black highlights the struggles of three women fighting to assimilate into a society that ignores their worth. These characters will pull at your heartstrings. Lola writes with a contemporary flair, highlighting the layered subtleties of the Black woman's plight. In Every Mirror She's Black will stay with readers for a long time."

Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of bestselling novels Here Comes the Sun and Patsy

"In her debut novel, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom has given us a story that is at once enjoyable and disturbing as it explores the painful price millions of women around the world pay for walking around with black skin."

Imbolo Mbue, New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers

Nigerian-American and based in Sweden, Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning author, speaker, and photographer. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Sunday Times Travel, The Telegraph, New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Slate, Travel Channel, Adventure Magazine, Lonely Planet, amongst others. In addition to contributing to several books, she is the author of the following books – 2018 Lowell Thomas Award winner for best travel book, Due North and bestselling LAGOM: Swedish Secret of Living Well, available in 18 foreign language editions. She has been recognized with multiple awards for her work, including 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Bill Muster Award, and she was honoured with a MIPAD 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Award within media and culture in 2018. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Image Collection. Lola is also the editor of Slow Travel Stockholm, an online magazine dedicated to exploring Sweden’s capital city in depth.

Product Details ISBN: 9781728253169
ISBN-10: 1728253160
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: June 7th, 2022
Pages: 432
Language: English

"An engaging novel that presents the nuanced experiences of Black women from all walks of life. The author takes on misogynoir masterfully in this book that's never quite what you think it is." — Essence



"Through lively prose and spirited dialogue, Åkerström shows that for all the protagonists' differences, being a Black woman in a white-dominated society will inevitably lead them to the same fate." — Vulture



"Three Black women in search of a better life end up in Sweden in this convincing debut...Åkerström powerfully conveys all of the women's experiences with race." — Publishers Weekly



"Åkerström paints an admirably rich portrait of a particular culture?its nuances, norms, and idiosyncrasies?raising important questions of prejudice, racial bias, agency, and belonging...A novel with thematic depth and complexity." — Kirkus Reviews



"A striking debut...As entertaining as it is revealing, Åkerström's novel has readers hoping that each of these women is able to break free from toxic expectations and achieve her every dream and ambition. Along the way, Åkerström also delivers poignant commentary on Swedish culture and the price Black women pay by virtue of the color of their skin." — Booklist



"In Every Mirror She's Black is a wise and complicated exploration of the lives of three Black women in America and Sweden. Lola Akinmade Åkerström offers a sharply written story with messy, deeply moving characters, raising brutal questions and steering clear of easy answers. A book that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page." — Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six and Malibu Rising



"In her debut novel, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom has given us a story that is at once enjoyable and disturbing as it explores the painful price millions of women around the world pay for walking around with black skin." — Imbolo Mbue, New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers



"Beautifully complex and deftly drawn, Kemi, Brittany, and Muna are going to stay on my mind for a long, long time. In Every Mirror She's Black is a sexy, surprising, searing debut about love, loss, desire, and the many dimensions of Black womanhood. Timely and terrific!" — Deesha Philyaw, award-winning author of The Secret Life of Church Ladies



"In Every Mirror She's Black highlights the struggles of three women fighting to assimilate into a society that ignores their worth. These characters will pull at your heartstrings. Lola writes with a contemporary flair, highlighting the layered subtleties of the Black woman's plight. In Every Mirror She's Black will stay with readers for a long time." — Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of bestselling novels Here Comes the Sun and Patsy



"What an absolute gift... This is a book with scope... It is thrilling, disturbing, mysterious, sexy, and above all, complex. Brittany, Kemi, and Muna will live in my head for a long time, and I don't think you could ask for anything more from a novel." — Kathy Wang, author of Family Trust and Imposter Syndrome



"An absolute must-read. From its relatable and three-dimensional characters, to its delving into racism and tokenism, to its unique and sometimes heartbreaking examination of the lives of Black women in a Nordic setting, this novel delivers an emotional punch. Kemi, Brittany, and Muna's lives come alive on the page...This is a very different and unpredictable portrayal of Black women's search for love and self, and it's pure magic." — Kim Golden, USA Today bestselling author



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