One of the most celebrated and revered writers in the history of American literature gives us a new nonfiction collection - a gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades. This book is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11, the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Ir., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, the author takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, "Black matter(s)" and human rights. She looks at enduring aspects of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and, in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sala, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars.--description from dust jacket.
Peril -- The foreigner's home. The dead of September 11 ; The foreigner's home ; Racism and fascism ; Home ; Wartalk ; The war on error ; A race in mind : the press in deed ; Moral inhabitants ; The price of wealth, the cost of care ; The habit of art ; The individual artist ; Arts advocacy ; Sarah Lawrence commencement address ; The slavebody and the blackbody ; Harlem on my mind : contesting memory - meditation on museums, culture, and integration ; Women, race, and memory ; Literature and public life ; The Nobel lecture in literature ; Cinderella's stepsisters ; The future of time : literature and diminished expectations -- Interlude : Black matter(s). Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. ; Race matters ; Black matter(s) ; Unspeakable things unspoken : the Afro-American presence in American literature ; Academic whispers ; Gertrude Stein and the difference she makes ; Hard, true, and lasting -- God's language. James Baldwin eulogy ; The site of memory ; God's language ; Grendel and his mother ; The writer before the page ; The trouble with paradise ; On "Beloved" ; Chinua Achebe ; Introduction of Peter Sellars ; Tribute to Romare Bearden ; Faulkner and women ; The source of self-regard ; Rememory ; Memory, creation, and fiction ; Goodbye to all that : race, surrogacy, and farewell ; Invisible ink : reading the writing and writing the reading.