Beyond Bestsellers: Ta-Nehisi Coates

by Lisa C.

Ta-Nehisi Coates began his career as an attention-grabbing essayist and journalist who gained recognition for his insightful and razor-sharp explorations of race relations in America. His first book was the critically acclaimed memoir, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. The hugely successful, best-selling work, Between the World and Me, followed and received the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2015. His most recent nonfiction collection, We Were Eight Years in Power, contains eight articles written for each year of the Obama administration.

In addition to his impassioned and thought-provoking memoirs and essays, Coates published his first work of fiction, The Water Dancer, last September. This much-lauded debut novel combines history and fantasy to tell the story of a young man with mysterious gifts who flees slavery and is recruited to use his powers to aid the abolitionist network, the Underground Railroad.

This versatile author, and self-described comics nerd, also writes Marvel’s Black Panther and Captain America comics. What can’t Ta-Nehisi Coates write?

Beyond Ta-Nehisi Coates

If you’ve already exhausted Coates’ body-of-work and are looking for more books that explore similar themes and topics, try the following recommendations:

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

To help you get started reading beyond Ta-Nehisi Coates, Sno-Isle Libraries is providing unlimited access to the digital edition of Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. By reflecting on the deaths of five men in her life, this award-winning writer examines the danger of being poor, black, and male in the rural South.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

If you enjoyed Between the World and Me, you should try the book that inspired it. The always brilliant James Baldwin wrote The Fire Next Time during 1960s segregation. This powerful book contains the author’s letter to his teenage nephew and is a devastatingly timeless account of race relations in the US.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Fans of Coates’ fictional effort, The Water Dancer, should try another title brimming with watery imagery: The Deep by Rivers Solomon. Down deep in the sea are a mermaid-like people descended from drowned African slaves. One historian is chosen to keep all the memories of her people so the rest can live free from burden. A haunting and beautifully written story that explores the effects of generational trauma.


Check out this Beyond Ta-Nehisi Coates list for even more recommendations.

Beyond Ta-Nehisi Coates

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