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The Message

The Message

(Pre-Order, Oct 1 2024)

Ta-Nehisi Coates
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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Between the World and Me travels the world to explore how the stories we tell--and the ones we don't--shape our realities.

Coates originally set off to write a book about writing, in the tradition of Orwell's classic Politics and the English Language, but found himself grappling with deeper questions about how our stories—our reporting and imaginative narratives and mythmaking—expose and distort our realities. 

The first of the book's three intertwining essays is set in Dakar, Senegal. Despite being raised as a strict Afrocentrist—and named for Nubian pharaoh—Coates had never set foot on the African continent until finally he traveled to the coast of the dark ocean that carried the enslaved to a new world. He roams the "steampunk" city of "old traditions and new machinery," meeting with strangers—fabric sellers and street hustlers—and dining with Francophone writers who quiz him on African American politics. But everywhere he goes he feels as if he's in two places at once: a modern city in Senegal and a mythic kingdom in his mind, the pan-African homeland he was raised to believe was the origin and destiny for all black people. Eventually he travels to the slave castles off the coast—and his own reckoning with the legacy of the Afrocentric dream.

In Palestine, the longest of the essays, he discovers the devastating gap between the stories we tell ourselves and the vivid reality on the ground. He travels the singular landscape and meets with activists and dissidents, Israelis and Palestinians--the old, who remember their dispossession, and the young who dream of revolution. He travels into Jerusalem where he is told a story of this contested land that justifies its conquest; he travels to the West Bank to see the reality that the myth is meant to hide, one that parallels his own ancestral memories of the segregationist south. It is the hidden story that draws him in and profoundly changes him--and makes the war that would soon come all the more devastating.

The final essay takes place back in the USA—in Columbia, South Carolina, where Coates visits a school district in the process of banning one of his books. He enters the world of the teacher whose job is threatened and her community of mostly white supporters who were transformed and even radicalized by the "racial reckoning" of 2020. But he also explores the deeper myths and stories of that city—a capital of the confederacy with statues of segregationists looming over the city's public squares. 

Written at a dramatic moment in American and global life, this work from one of the country's most important writers eloquently expresses the need to interrogate our myths and liberate our truths.


  • Publisher: One World
  • Publish Date: October 01, 2024
  • Pages: 176
  • Language: English
  • Type: Hardcover
  • EAN/UPC: 9780593230381
  • BISAC Categories: American Government - Executive Branch, Discrimination & Race Relations, Essays
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