Nephew: A Memoir in 4-Part Harmony

Amistad: HarperCollins. May 2024. 208p. ISBN 9780063275287. $26.99. MEMOIR
Award-winning filmmaker and recording artist Asante (host and coexecutive producer of the docuseries While Black; author of Buck: A Memoir) weaves together stories of several generations of his family, incorporating poetry, rap songs, voicemails, letters to God, journal entries, funeral programs, suicide notes, and T-shirt slogans with quotes from prominent writers and thinkers from around the world and across time. When Asante’s book begins, it’s three A.M., and he’s in the lobby of the Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. He’s writing a letter to his 18-year-old nephew, who is lying in the ICU with nine bullets in his body. The voice of the author is anguished as he asks readers to pay attention to the details and to the bigger picture of his observations and conclusions about generational trauma, resilience, and brilliance. His writing style is simple, yet powerful, and he doesn’t sacrifice complexity and nuance.
VERDICT This poignant memoir about overcoming devastating odds is a treasure and likely to become a classic. Essential reading for deepening understanding of society, the world, familial relationships, and the meaning of art and life.
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