Karen Yuan / The Atlantic

Today’s Issue:

  • “We are obsessed with the idea of the individual overcoming the odds. I’m drawn to that story, too, but that story is bullshit,” the writer Kiese Laymon told us.
  • Heavy, by Kiese Laymon, was our December Book Club selection. Laymon joined us to discuss the compulsion for black Americans to appear successful—and the damage that can do to the nation.
  • In the new year, we’re taking a brief break from the Masthead Book Club to work on some exciting changes. Stay tuned.

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

Kiese Laymon is successful. He’s a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Mississippi. His new memoir was named a best book of 2018 by The New York Times, NPR, and The Washington Post, among others. But Heavy isn’t supposed to be a feel-good story. Laymon’s writing rejects empty platitudes in a time when the nation is afraid to reckon with the problems it still embodies.

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