Negroland | Granta

  • Published: 29/12/2016
  • ISBN: 9781783783397
  • 129x20mm
  • 256 pages


Margo Jefferson

The daughter of a successful paediatrician and a fashionable socialite, Margo Jefferson spent her childhood among Chicago’s black elite. She calls this society ‘Negroland’: ‘a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty’. With privilege came expectation. Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments – the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America – Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.

The masterful Negroland - endlessly impressive and important - is a book of then versus now. Slavery, the Civil War, Civil Rights, the Black Power movement: Jefferson elegantly traverses a rich, often troubling, but surprising historical landscape [...] There's no navel-gazing here. The personal is no longer indistinguishable from the political, but Jefferson achieves that volatile alchemy that's integral to all the finest of memoirs: the transformation of an individual story into something that resonates outside the confines of subjective experience.

Lucy Scholes, Independent

A rare insight into upper-class black society in the US... Jefferson's eye for details yields some devastatingly honest and painful insights [and she takes delight] in the subtleties of language, in the choice of the mot juste... Jefferson is striking a path into dangerous, unfamiliar territory

Clive Davis, The Times

In this compelling, moving and clear-eyed memoir, Jefferson draws on her own experiences and those of previous generations of privileged black Americans to explore complex issues of identity and privilege with insight, compassion and wry wit

Anna Carey, Irish Times

The Author

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.

More about the author →

From the Same Author

Margo Jefferson on

In Conversation | The Online Edition


Margo Jefferson & Guy Gunaratne

Guy Gunaratne interviewed Margo Jefferson after the winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize was announced, and they discussed her prize-winning book, Constructing a Nervous System.

In Conversation | The Online Edition

In Conversation

Leslie Jamison & Margo Jefferson

‘The self is the work of art. Criticism puts that self in the service of other art.’

The authors discuss the multiplicity of the self, the idea of necessity, and how to work with what you lack.

Essays & Memoir | Granta 140

Monster | State of Mind

Margo Jefferson

‘Today’s a day for you to feel blocked and impeded; a coward in work and love; resenting duty; suspecting pleasure.’