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Mychal Denzel Smith
is the author of the New York Times bestseller Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching
(2016). He is featured in and was a consulting producer for “Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story,” the Paramount Network docu-series executive produced by Jay-Z. In 2014 and 2016, TheRoot.com named him one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans.Stakes Is High
, winner of the 2020 Nonfiction Kirkus Prize, is the book we need to guide us past crisis mode and through an uncertain future. The events of the past decade have forced us to reckon with who we are and who we want to be. Smith exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life and helps envision a future that is not as grim as our past.
Buy the Book.
Valeria Luiselli. Not only is she one of my favorite writers, but she was kind enough to do one of my virtual book tour events with me and our conversation wasn’t nearly long enough. She’s incredible.
The weather is getting cooler, so I’m in the mood for hearty, warm, rustic kinds of meals. I had a craving for chili and went searching for recipes to try and found what I think is my new favorite over at Food & Wine. It’s a chicken-beer-hominy chili
and it’s soooo good, especially if you like chipotle. I’d never had hominy before but now I’m going to put it in everything.
I watch far too much TV. I love Great British Bake Off, and I binged Cobra Kai recently. But I’m in need of another show to consume me, something with hundreds of episodes that I’ll get lost in. Otherwise, I might make (yet another) run through Mad Men.
My absolute favorite book from childhood, which I confirmed by re-reading a couple years ago, is The Westing Game
. I love a good mystery and puzzles and that book sets up this tense story with really memorable characters. Bonus: it’s a critique of the American Dream (even if its conclusions are a bit less radical than I’d like).
I’m a Scorpio. I can never remember the traits. I get asked this question than have to look the description up every single time. All I know is that people recoil in fear and/or disgust whenever I tell them my sign and I would like for it to stop. No more prejudice against Scorpios. We’re people with feelings. We may hide those feelings from everyone around us, but we have them.
Fiction! As a book lover since The Baby-Sitter’s Club
, I’ve always been a contemporary fiction girl first and foremost. I’d love to write a novel or even a rom-com for my second next book…and even have a few ideas I’m noodling on…
Scorpio. I’ve been told it is. Intense and relentless. And that I have a tendency to sting when threatened. Not proud of it, but I do think that last part is probably true.
I’ve heard amazing things about V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
, which I have a copy of and just heard is going to become a movie. Can’t wait to dig in!
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Brave, clear-eyed, and passionate, Stakes Is High is the book we need to guide us past crisis mode and through an uncertain future.
The events of the past decade have forced us to reckon with who we are and who we want to be. We have been invested in a set of beliefs about our American identity: our exceptionalism, the inevitable rightness of our path, the promise that hard work and determination will carry us to freedom. But in Stakes Is High, Mychal Denzel Smith confronts the shortcomings of these stories -- and with the American Dream itself -- and calls on us to live up to the principles we profess but fail to realize.
In a series of incisive essays, Smith exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life, holding all of us, individually and as a nation, to account. We've gotten used to looking away, but the fissures and casual violence of institutional oppression are ever-present.
There is a future that is not as grim as our past. In this profound work, Smith helps us envision it with care, honesty, and imagination.