Read Isabel Wilkerson!
These days, events crowd in on us—so close, so huge, so out-of-proportion that we can barely comprehend them. Every day, the news shoves those events right up into our faces, and we can’t turn away or back off to get perspective or even, it seems, take a breath.
This is where writers come in. The good ones do what our daily news feed can’t—help us to pause, step back, and consider events through a story or a historical account or a subject, seemingly unrelated, that provides an unexpected new lens.
Isabel Wilkerson does all those things. And she has written a new book.
Wilkerson won a Pulitzer Prize for her feature writing as the Chicago bureau chief the New York Times. Her first book, The Warmth of Other Suns, tells the monumental story of the Great Migration, in which six million African Americans, including her parents, migrated from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West during the twentieth century. Time Magazine named it one of the ten best nonfiction books of the decade. Read about it here.
Her second book, which Wilkerson has been researching and writing for ten years, is Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and it will be published next week. In this new book, she takes what sounds like a dry topic and uses it to illuminate much of what is now happening all around us, including both COVID and racism. An excerpt appeared recently in the New York Times Magazine, and it is brilliant. Here are links to the article, the book, and an interview.