by Imani Perry
We all think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifies: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Imani Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.
This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. Her journey is full of detours, deep dives, and surprising encounters with places and people. Moving across the color line, she renders Southerners from all walks of life with a sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern Life.
Weaving together stories of immigrant communities, contemporary artists, contemporary artists, exploitative opportunists, Jim Crowed and enslaved peoples, unsung heroes, her own ancestors, and her lived experiences, Imani Perry crafts a tapestry unlike any other. With an uncommon insight and breathtaking clarity, South to America offers an assertion that if we want to build a more humane future for the United States, we must center our concern below the Mason-Dixon Line.
"An elegant meditation on the complexities of the American South -- and thus of America -- by an esteemed daughter of the South and one of the great intellectuals of our time. An inspiration." -- Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
"South to America marks time like Beloved did. Similarly, we will talk not solely of books about the South but of books generally as before or after South to America. I have known and loved the South for four decades, and Imani Perry has shown me that there is so much more in our region's fleshy folds to know, explore, and love. It is simply the most finely crafted and rigorously conceived book about our region, and nation, I have ever read." -- Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
About the Author:
Imani Perry is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Perry is the author of Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, winner of the 2019 Bograd-Weld Biography Prize from the Pen America Foundation. She is also the author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons; Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation; and May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem. Perry, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, who grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chicago, lives outside Philadelphia with her two sons.