Scribner bags Farah's memoir on race in America

Scribner bags Farah's memoir on race in America

Scribner is publishing America Made Me a Black Man, a memoir examining American racism by poet and writer Boyah J Farah this September.

Publishing director for non-fiction Holly Harris pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights from Laura Williams at Greene & Heaton. It will be published simultaneously with HarperCollins US.

The memoir charts Farah's early life, growing up in Somalia, before moving to America and experiencing systemic racism. The synopsis explains: "Born in Somalia and raised in a valley among nomads, Boyah Farah grew up with a code of male bravado that helped him survive deprivation, disease and civil war. Arriving in America, he believed that the code that had saved him would help him succeed in this new country. But instead of safety and freedom, Boyah found systemic racism, police brutality, and intense prejudice in all areas of life, including the workplace. He learned first-hand not only what it meant to be an African in America, but what it means to be African American. The code of masculinity that shaped generations of men in his family could not prepare Farah for the painful realities of life in the United States.

"Lyrical yet unsparing, America Made Me a Black Man is the first book-length examination of American racism from an African outsider’s perspective. With a singular poetic voice brimming with imagery, Boyah Farah challenges us to face difficult truths about the destructive forces that threaten Black lives. By affirming that there is a 'melancholy redemption in possessing a Black body in America,' he also attempts to heal a fracture in Black men’s identity in this unforgettable book."

Farah said: "This is my love letter to America. But love is not simple. Love is complex and contradictory just like America, where the ideals of the American dream conflict with the often grim reality of American lives. Yet the American Dream persists as love continues, in spite of obstacles and betrayals. Racism has driven America into fragments of hope, pain, despair, conflict and joy. This is the America of my lived reality."

Commenting on the acquisition, Harris added: “Boyah’s writing is beautiful and captivated me from the first page – but more than that, he challenged and broadened my understanding of the complex issue of race in America. This is an important book. I hope that my experience will be shared by many readers.”

The S&S imprint will publish in September, with the memoir appearing in hardback, audio and e-book.