Western Reads Chooses Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Between the World and Me" as its 2016-17 Selection

Western Reads has chosen Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction, as its 2016-17 Western Reads book.

Western Reads is a campus-wide reading program designed to promote intellectual engagement, community and conversation among new students. A complimentary copy of the book is given to incoming freshman and transfer students at Western.

“Between the World and Me” is written as a letter from Coates to his 15-year-old son, examining the effects of racism during Coates’ formative years during the 1970s and ‘80s, as well as through his son’s more contemporary moment as a young Millennial. 

The book examines the physical effects of racism on African-Americans, including the impact of slavery on black bodies, the ideological violence that emerged from Reconstruction onward, and the various forms of institutional racism and segregation that continue today.  While Coates frankly addresses the construction of race in the U.S., in both white and black terms, the book also brims with the kind of hope that a parent has to have for the future.  

In a review for Slate, Jack Hamilton said that the book “is a love letter written in a moral emergency, one that Coates exposes with the precision of an autopsy and the force of an exorcism.”

​Ta-Nehisi Coates is an American intellectual, journalist, and educator, as well as a national correspondent for The Atlantic.  Several articles in The Atlantic, such as “Fear of a Black President” and “The Case for Reparations” have won the author widespread acclaim.   Additionally, Coates has written several books that address cultural, political, and social issues, as they are shaped by race in the United States.  His first book, “The Beautiful Struggle:  A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood,” is a memoir about growing up in Baltimore, the son of a Black Panther father.  Last year, Coates was awarded a 2015 MacArthur Genius Grant.  He is currently living with his family in Paris, France, where he is working on his next book project.

Western Reads will be participating in conversations around the book all year long and will make resources available for faculty and staff who would like to engage students in discussions of the book. 

For more information, contact Dawn Dietrich, Western Reads program director, at Dawn.Dietrich@wwu.edu.