Book Review: Black Misery

Book Cover Images image of Black Misery

by , Illustrated by Arouni

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    Publication Date: Jul 21, 1994
    List Price: Unavailable
    Format: Hardcover, 72 pages
    Classification: Fiction
    ISBN13: 9780195091144
    Imprint: Oxford University Press
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Parent Company: University of Oxford

    Read a Description of Black Misery

    Book Reviewed by Troy Johnson

    black misery text

    Misery is when you heard
    on the radio that the neighborhood
    you live in is a slum but
    you always thought it was home”

    black misery is a picture book, but should not be confused with a children’s book (though children may relate to it).  They book can be read in 10 minutes but pondered over a lifetime.

    Each page features a one sentence “Misery is…” statement accompanied by a beautiful illustration—simple, yet deep on so many levels.  Despite being penned almost 50 years ago black misery has meaning and relevance today. 

    In the sample above, a child hears through the media that his neighborhood is a “slum&”.   The neighborhood where he shoots hoops, and his sisters jump double-dutch is described as a slum — a slum, ghetto, or inner-city, but never described as a home.  The accompanying photo poignantly expresses the hurt, humiliation, and confusion of the young boy.  Given a lifetime of hearing these negative labels associated with not only his neighborhood, but his skin tone, his culture and history, we know this young man has a tough road ahead of him.  We may be on that road ourselves.

    black misery text

    Hughes’ misery captions reminds us that we share something that is unique to African Americans.  As an African-American you may not relate to everyone of Hughes’ captions but I guarantee, you’ll relate to at least a few. 

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    Share your Own “Black Misery Is…” quotes, and read those left by AALBC readers.

    Black Power Line
    Read Oxford University Press’s description of Black Misery.

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