SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Witches Are Coming

Hachette. Nov. 2019. 272p. ISBN 9780316449885. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780316449892. SOC SCI
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The term witch hunt has become a popular rallying cry for many on the political right, most recently employed by those who stand accused of anything ranging from making insensitive jokes to committing sexual assault. It’s a favorite expression of President Trump, reminds New York Times journalist West (Shrill) in this sharp, up-to-the-minute, witty collection of essays. Here, West reclaims the phrase, embracing it as a mantra in the ongoing fight against the misogyny, racism, transphobia, and xenophobia ever present in American culture. West’s commentary often finds unexpected connections. For example, her examination of Grumpy Cat is a lens through which we can understand how Americans are “addicted to plausible deniability,” and ready to embrace obvious lies to avoid reckoning with the original sins of our country’s founding. Or her devastating critique of Joan Rivers, who pushed against certain forms of bias in the entertainment industry while ruthlessly enforcing others.
VERDICT Covering everything from the 2016 election and #metoo to abortion rights and fat-positive body representation to the climate crisis, West’s latest will have progressive readers, especially longtime followers of her work, nodding along, quoting passages to friends. Hand to fans of Rebecca Traister, Ijeoma Oluo, and Roxane Gay.

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