Best Books of the Year

It is almost the end of the year, which means it’s time for best books lists. We’re pleased to share the accolades our authors and their books have amassed from a variety of outlets this year:

Life and Death on the New York Dance FloorTim Lawrence’s Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983 has received praise from some big names in the music industry. Life and Death marbles 1980s dance culture with politics, funk, and liberation. The Village Voice named it one of their Ten Notable Books of 2016 calling it “scrupulously researched” and a “marvelously detailed history.” Over at Music Is My Sanctuary, they named Lawrence’s book one of the Top 10 Music Books of 2016. David Cantin writes, “This eagerly awaited follow-up to Lawrence’s classic Love Saves The Day is by far my favourite book of the year. A brilliantly documented and written piece that ventures into the New York party scene with great depth.”


In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe received high praise from The Guardian as one of its Best Books of 2016. Madeleine Thien says, “The book that will live on in me from this year is Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Duke), on living in the wake of the catastrophic violence of legal chattel slavery. In the Wake speaks in so many multiple ways (poetry, memory, theory, images) and does so in language that is never still. It is, in part, about keeping watch, not unseeing the violence that has become normative, being in the hold, holding on and still living.” Additionally, and in light of the political and social upheavals this year, Flavorwire has named In the Wake one of its 15 Nonfiction Books from 2016 to Bolster the Resistance.


Double congratulations are also in order for Susan E. Cahan’s book Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power. Culture Type chose it as one of the 12 Best Black Art Books of 2016a list that includes works that are “in various ways reframing art history.” Vulture included Mounting Frustration in their 10 best Art Books of 2016 category claiming, “Protest histories like this feel more vital than ever as we prepare to set forth into the long winter of unrest ahead.”

Rolling Stone
has named Greg Tate’s Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader one of its 10 Best Music Books of 2016. Michaelangelo Matos says, “Greg Tate’s ferocious, slang-tinged salvos and flyboydeep-rooted historical analysis have inspired readers and intimidated colleagues for decades.”

making-refuge-coverCatherine Besteman’s book recounting the experiences of Somali migrants—Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Mainehas been included in Foreign Affairs‘s Best Books of 2016. Arguing for the importance and timelessness of Besteman’s work, reviewer Nicolas van de Walle writes, “Besteman eschews social science jargon to tell her story with great insight and empathy. Her book should be required reading for policymakers currently debating what to do with refugees from Syria.”

978-0-8223-6224-1_borderDonna Haraway’s latest, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, was chosen by POSTmatter as one of their Top 10 Books of 2016. They say, “Through a combination of science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism and speculative fabulation, Staying with The Trouble maps out new ways to reconfigure our relationship with the planet, and makes a case for its future.”

Over at T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Tim Lawrence’s biography of Arthur RussellHold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992has made it on to musician Devonté “Dev” Hynes’s 10 Favorite Books list. Hynes calls it “an inspiring yet tragic read” that he’s read “cover to cover three times.”

Only the Road

And finally, World Literature Today cited Margaret Randall’s anthology of Cuban poetry, Only the Road / Solo el Camino: Eight Decades of Cuban Poetry, as one of its 75 Notable Translations of 2016. Only the Road / Solo el Camino provides an English-speaking audience with an expansive bilingual collection of work from Cuba and its diaspora.

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