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The Black Period: On Personhood, Race, and Origin (Hardcover)
***Finalist for the 2023 Chautauqua Prize***
Acclaimed poet Hafizah Augustus Geter reclaims her origin story in this “lyrical memoir” (The New Yorker)—combining biting criticism and haunting visuals.
“Hafizah Augustus Geter is a genuine artist, not bound by genre or form. Her only loyalty is the harrowing beauty of the truth.”—Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
Winner of the PEN Open Book Award • Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award • A New Yorker Best Book of the Year • A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year •A Brittle Paper Notable African Book of the Year • A Good Morning America Anticipated Book
“I say, ‘the Black Period,’ and mean ‘home’ in all its shapeshifting ways.” A book of great hope, Hafizah Augustus Geter’s The Black Period creates a map for how to survive: a country, a closet, a mother’s death, and the terror of becoming who we are in a world not built to accommodate diverse identities.
At nineteen, she suddenly lost her mother to a stroke. Weeks later, her father became so heartsick that he needed a triple bypass. Amid the crumbling of her world, Hafizah struggled to know how to mourn a Muslim woman in a freshly post-9/11 America. Weaving through a childhood populated with southern and Nigerian relatives, her days in a small Catholic school, and learning to accept her own sexuality, and in the face of a chronic pain disability that sends her pinballing through the grind that is the American Dream, Hafizah discovers that grief is a political condition. In confronting the many layers of existence that the world tries to deny, it becomes clear that in order to emerge from erasure, she must map out her own narrative.
Through a unique combination of gripping memoir, history, political analysis, cultural criticism, and Afrofuturist thought—alongside stunning original artwork created by her father, renowned artist Tyrone Geter—Hafizah leans into her parents’ lessons on the art of Black revision to create a space for the beauty of Blackness, Islam, disability, and queerness to flourish.
As exquisitely told as it is innovative, and with a lyricism that dazzles, The Black Period is a reminder that joy and tenderness require courage, too.
About the Author
Hafizah Augustus Geter is a Nigerian American writer, poet, and literary agent born in Zaria, Nigeria, and raised in Akron, Ohio, and Columbia, South Carolina. She is the author of the poetry collection Un-American, an NAACP Image Award and PEN Open Book Award finalist. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Bomb, The Believer, The Paris Review, among many others. The poetry committee co-chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, she is a Bread Loaf Katharine Bakeless nonfiction fellow, a Cave Canem poetry fellow, and a 92Y Women inPower Fellow and holds an MFA in nonfiction from New York University, where she was an Axinn Fellow. Hafizah lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“In this lyrical memoir, Geter, a poet, sets down a powerful vision of Black life in the United States. . . . She asks, ‘What would it look like to emerge from erasure?’ Her father’s oil paintings and charcoal drawings, scattered throughout the book, provide one response.”—The New Yorker
“Among the most evocative and intellectually dazzling memoirs of recent times.”—Suketu Mehta, author of This Land Is Our Land
“A book of extraordinary ambition, at once bracing, beautiful, and necessary—I couldn’t put it down.”—Meghan O’Rourke, author of The Invisible Kingdom
“An absolutely stunning literary experience . . . Hafizah Augustus Geter has written a classic.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
“A stellar example of the brilliance it requires to walk the tightrope of offering a full portrait of a life . . . a triumph of the form.”—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America
“Hafizah Augustus Geter announces herself as a storyteller, truth seeker, and pathfinder. This is a work that interrogates as it both mourns and celebrates.”—Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
“A brilliant evocation of artistic and political restlessness . . . a record of sustaining joy.”—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“An affirmation of the strongest sort . . . a simple and beautiful statement of our inevitability.”—Uzodinma Iweala, author of Speak No Evil
“An essential read for all of us concerned with navigating the century ahead . . . The Black Period is a triumph.”—Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, author of The Disordered Cosmos
“An indictment, an elegy, and above all a work of brilliance.”—Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body
“Overflows with stories, family histories, disarming images, and arresting truths.”—Jess Row, author of White Flights
“A journey of greater breadth and depth than nearly anything else being written today.”—John Murillo, author of Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry
“In this elegiac text, a Nigerian American poet pays homage to her family while considering Black origin stories. . . . A resonant collage of memories, soulfulness, and elective, electrifying solidarity.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Geter’s expansive vision becomes much more than a self-portrait as it confronts how the human body keeps score—and survives. This poetic memoir delivers”—Publishers Weekly