Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval
Saidiya Hartman

This is probably my book of the year.

An incredible use of the archives to tell the stories of the lives of Black women at the turn of the century. Hartman uses criminal records, photographs, memoirs, to show how precarious and wonderful the lives of these women were. The writing is gorgeous, but the subject matter is often very dark – violence, especially sexual violence, runs through this book. But so does love, and joy, and loss and growth and everything else that makes up life. It’s brilliant. I have never read anything like it.


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  1. 2020: My Year In Books | Milo and the Calf

    […] speaking of books that are history and literature, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman is a beautiful, haunting, work of genius that we’ll be talking about for years to come. This is […]

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