Thursday, December 27, 2018

Five important books bearing witness to America’s carceral state

The Literature for Justice initiative of the National Book Foundation tagged "five books that shine a necessary light on the American criminal justice system and provide crucial perspectives that help further the nation’s understanding of this massive apparatus that impacts the lives of citizens and non-citizens alike," including:
Kalisha Buckhanon, Upstate: A Novel (2006)

Upstate masterfully takes as its subject a lost world. It’s a toxic world where incarceration is treated as a rite of passage, one created by all of us but too often ignored by artists. Kalisha Buckhanon captures it all perfectly. Antonio and Natasha are indelible and individuated but also tragically emblematic. And this is the novel’s forceful achievement: that the dirty secrets of this country’s mass incarceration program, the great civil rights malfunction of our time, can feel so lyric and personal.

The committee is pleased to draw more attention to this powerful work that highlights the role fiction can play in resisting social injustice. The book can only further our understanding of the devastating impact decades of illegitimate policing has had and should be required reading for anyone hoping to contribute to meaningful reform.
Sergio de la Pava
Read about the other books on the list at LitHub.

--Marshal Zeringue