A Year in Reading: Jamel Brinkley

December 19, 2017 | 15 books mentioned 4 min read

2017 has been another year of transition for me. After living in Madison, Wisc., for only a year, I moved out to California. It’s been strange and a little unsettling to move farther and farther away from my family and friends in New York. I’ve also felt anxious because teaching duties in Madison and Iowa City, a fairly demanding new job I’ve taken on to pay the bills, and edits for my forthcoming debut story collection have kept me from writing any new fiction. And then, of course, there’s been the nightmarish daily assault of Donald Trump, white supremacy, toxic masculinity, gun violence… The list goes on.

Thank goodness for independent bookstores! A Room of One’s Own, Skylight Books, Eso Won Books, and The Last Bookstore helped new cities feel more like home. Greenlight Bookstore and Prairie Lights Books have been priority stops whenever I dipped back to Brooklyn or Iowa City. Thank goodness for books. Here are some that have ushered me through a challenging year:

covercovercoverA People on the Cover by Glenn Ligon

The Mountain by Paul Yoon

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe

covercovercoverExit West by Mohsin Hamid

The Origin of Others by Toni Morrison

A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma

Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews

covercovercoverThe King Is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón

The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

WHEREAS by Layli Long Soldier

Portrait of the Alcoholic by Kaveh Akbar

covercovercoverNew People by Danzy Senna

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li

Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey

Somebody with a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill

covercovercoverHouse of Lords and Commons by Ishion Hutchinson

The Changeling by Victor LaValle

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

Afterland by Mai Der Vang

covercovercoverWhat It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing by Margot Livesey

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

covercovercoverUnaccompanied by Javier Zamora

Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

Bestiary by Donika Kelly

Like a Beggar by Ellen Bass

covercovercoverHer Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Play Dead by francine j. harris

Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott

More from A Year in Reading 2017

Do you love Year in Reading and the amazing books and arts content that The Millions produces year round? We are asking readers for support to ensure that The Millions can stay vibrant for years to come. Please click here to learn about several simple ways you can support The Millions now.

Don’t miss: A Year in Reading 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

's debut collection, A Lucky Man: Stories, will be published in May by Graywolf Press. He has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writers Program at the University of Iowa, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Kimbilio Fiction. He has also received awards from the Bread Loaf, Tin House, and Napa Valley writing conferences. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in A Public Space, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Epiphany, and The Threepenny Review, among other journals. He is from New York City and currently lives in Los Angeles.

Add Your Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.