Margo Jefferson | Granta

Margo Jefferson

The winner of a Pulitzer Prize for criticism, MARGO JEFFERSON was for years a theater and book critic for Newsweek and The New York Times. Her writing has appeared in, among other publications, Vogue, New York magazine, and The New Republic. She is the author of On Michael Jackson and is a professor of writing at Columbia University School of the Arts.

Coming soon - April 2023

Constructing a Nervous System

Margo Jefferson

Shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize 2022

In this intimate and innovative memoir, Pulitzer prize-winning author Margo Jefferson gives us her own personal and intellectual formation.

As she comes of age in an America whose freedoms are distorted by race and gender, she finds herself in a cast of others – jazz luminaries, writers, artists, athletes, and stars. Bing Crosby and Ike Turner are among the author’s alter egos. The sounds of a jazz LP emerge as the intimate and instructive sounds of a parent’s voice. W. E. B. Du Bois and George Eliot meet illicitly. The muscles and movements of a ballerina are spliced with those of an Olympic runner, becoming a template for what a black female body can be.

From Josephine Baker’s radiant transformations, to Willa Cather’s aesthetics of whiteness, Jefferson shows us how we can find space in cultures that will not make room for us, and how, even in times of stricture, we might learn to construct ourselves.



On Michael Jackson

Margo Jefferson



Margo Jefferson