Surviving Another's Gaze: Memoir Previews, Feb. 2021. Pt. 2 | Prepub Alert

From Okinawan American Elizabeth Miki Brina to Black American Rebecca Carroll, raised by white parents, to Filipino American comedian Koy, Basketball Hall of Famer Black coach John Thompson, and Biafra-rooted Black cultural critic Louis Chude-Sokei: surviving the white gaze. Plus French author Vanessa Springora recalling childhood seduction by a distinguished French author and Michael Patrick F. Smith on hard work with his father in mind. 

Brina, Elizabeth Miki. Speak, Okinawa. Knopf. Feb. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780525657347. $26.95. Downloadable. MEMOIR

With a Vietnam veteran father and Okinawan nightclub-hostess mother, Brina grew up feeling alienated in a mostly white, upstate New York suburb. Here she attempts to come to terms with culture cover of Carroll's Surviving the White Gazeclash and self-loathing while finally learning about her mother’s heritage and country.

Carroll, Rebecca. Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir. S. & S. Feb. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781982116255. $26. MEMOIR

Adopted by socially committed, artistically inclined white parents, WNYC cultural critic Carroll grew up feeling isolated as the only black person in her small New Hampshire town. Here she details a tumultuous search for identity leading from her undermining white birth mother through depression and drinking to finding peace with her adopted black family. With a 50,000-copy first printing.

Chude-Sokei, Louis. Floating in a Most Peculiar Way: A Memoir. Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781328841582. $27. MEMOIR

The “first son of the first son” of a leader of the briefly flourishing Biafra, Chude-Soke grew up in a home for abandoned children in Jamaica, then with his mother (the “Jackie O of Biafra”) in Los Angeles as it verged on riots and gangsta rap. Here he relates learning to become a Black American—and to embrace the various blacknesses of his extended family. From the director of the African American Studies program at Boston University.

Johnson, Elle. The Officer’s Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness. Harper. Feb. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780063011328. $27.99. MEMOIR

Harvard-trained television writer Johnson grew up in New York City worshipping her cool cousin Karen, whose murder at the Burger King where she worked shattered her entire family of Black law enforcement officers. Three decades later, the pending parole of one of the killers led Johnson to reconsider what this event has meant to her and her relatives. With a 30,000-copy first printing.

Koy, Jo. Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo. Dey Street: HarperCollins. Feb. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9780062969965. $27.99. MEMOIR

Smash-hit Netflix specials and world tours: Filipino American Koy, the 2018 Stand-Up Comedian of the Year at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, stands out in a field beginning to demand diverse performers. Here he relates the stories behind his act, from his tough Filipino mama to his “indirectly” racist white American stepfather. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Myhres, Brannt. Pain Killer. Viking. Feb. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780735239418. $26. MEMOIR

A star of the National Hockey League, Myhres played for seven different teams and was suspended four times for drug use, which eventually got him shoved off the league and left him penniless. Here’s how he became involved in substance abuse and how he came clean with the birth of his daughter, studied substance abuse behavioral health at Mount Royal University, and signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as the team’s player assistance director.

Smith, Michael Patrick F. The Good Hand: A Memoir of Work, Brotherhood, and Transformation in an American Boomtown. Viking. Feb. 2021. 464p. ISBN 9781984881519. $29. Downloadable. MEMOIR

Needing to prove something to himself once he hit his mid-thirties, folksinger/playwright Smith sought out the hardest work he could find, determined to stick with it as his father never would have. That’s how he ended up in the oil fields of North Dakota during the Bakken fracking boom of 2013. A story of hard labor, men working together, and strained father-son relationships.

Springora, Vanessa. Consent. HarperVia. Feb. 2021. 208p. tr. from French by Natasha Lehrer. ISBN 9780063047884. $27.99. MEMOIR

Now in her forties, Spingora finally speaks out about her seduction as a 13-year-old by a celebrated older male writer, explaining how it distorted her life and condemning a chauvinistic literary culture that supports gender inequality while blithely ignoring the sexual abuse of children. A French best seller that garnered New York Times attention.

Thompson, John with Jesse Washington. I Came As a Shadow: An Autobiography. Holt. Jan. 2021. 352p. ISBN 9781250619358. $29.99. MEMOIR

Head basketball coach at Georgetown University from 1972 to 1999, Basketball Hall of Famer Thompson was the first Black coach to win an NCAA championship, succeeding despite hostility from fans, sportswriters, and the NCAA. His life story embodies his belief that basketball is a means of education, and along the way he graduated 97 percent of his players. With a 125,000-copy first printing.

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