- Published: 29/12/2016
- ISBN: 9781783783397
- 256 pages
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
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Margo Jefferson on Granta.com
In Conversation | The Online Edition
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
‘Today’s a day for you to feel blocked and impeded; a coward in work and love; resenting duty; suspecting pleasure.’
Granta Books Writing | Granta Books
Margo Jefferson Reads Kathleen Collins | Podcast
Margo Jefferson & Kathleen Collins
Margo Jefferson reads ‘The Uncle’ by Kathleen Collins, taken from the story collection, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?