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Morgan Jerkins Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist inAmerica (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Morgan Jerkins is a journalist, author and editor best known for her debut novel “This Will Be My Undoing.” Her debut novel has received widespread recognition and praise for its articulation of social dynamics. These are aspects that inform the reality of black women in America for hundreds of years. Written in the form of an essay collection, it made the long list for the Art of the Essay Award by the Diamonstein-Spielvogel/PEN organization was a Barnes & Noble Disover Pick, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and New York Times bestselling title. Porochista Khakpour called her a critic, a star, a scholar, a blessing and a force, while Roxane Gay called her a writer to be reckoned with. Her work has been featured in prominent publications including “The Guardian,” “The New York Times,” “Esquire,” “The New Yorker,” “Rolling Stone,” and “The Atlantic” among many others. Jerkins went to Princeton University and attended Writing seminars at Bennington College. For a time, she was the Associate Editor at Catapult and taught the MFA program at Columbia University. She still works as an editor and edits ZORA a magazine publication published by Medium.

Jerkins was born and brought up in Southern New Jersey, in the small town of Egg Harbor that is twenty minutes from Atlantic City. When she was in her teens, her parents moved to the larger Williamstown that is about half an hour from Philadelphia. As a fourteen year old, she dreamed of becoming an author. Her very first attempt at writing was about how much she wanted to grow up and become a doctor. She had all these ambitions of getting a medical degree and doctorate from Columbia and taking over her father’s practice. But she had terrible times in school as she was bullied badly that she sought comfort in writing. Seeking an outlet for her frustration, she wrote a lot of manuscripts she believed were novels but she knew nothing about publishing at the time. While she loved writing, she was not much of a reader even with her imaginative mind. She never found many books that resonated with her for a long time until she was in senior year of high school. Now reading the likes of “Madame Bovary,” she found literature very engaging. When she took a creative writing class in junior year and enjoyed it, she started thinking of becoming a writer, even though she also found an outlet in acting and public speaking.

The journey to finding a job in publishing was not so smooth even after attending Princeton to study Creative Writing. Morgan Jerkins had been told right from the moment she got into Princeton that she was among the cream of the crop and hence had high expectations when she graduated. She thought that since she came from such a prestigious school she should at least be able to snag an editorial assistant job. It turned out that one had to do unpaid internships before breaking through to become a publisher. Jerkins started living on the couch of a friend that had graduated before her while interning in SoHo just to get the experience. It was during this time that she realized that she had never met an editorial assistant that was a person of color. She was applying for all these jobs, could speak more than three languages, had a literary background but just could not get a job. During this time, her mother encouraged her to get into an MFA program at Bennington since she could get a stipend if she went straight to grad school. It was while she was working for her MFA that she began writing the essays that would later be compiled into her debut “This Will be My Undoing.”

Morgan Jerkins’ novel This Will be My Undoing” is a novel that depicts the life experiences of a black woman. The author through several essays investigates and exposes what it was like to grow up in a society where race based harassment, white beauty standards and racial divisions in school were the norm. Jerkins is quick to assert that she does not write what should be considered a one size fits all story but rather her own experience. It is a shining personal memoir written with raw honesty that tells of how the author held her blackness and those of other girls in disdain while she was growing up. Morgan also talks frankly about masturbation, desire and sex. In one of the most profound essays titled “Human Not Black,” she reunited being human with being black and says that the two cannot be exclusive. She asserts that by referring to herself as a black woman it does not mean that she is rejecting the common humanity she had with everyone else. It is an incisive commentary on racism, pop culture, misogyny, black history and feminism from one of the fiercest writing critics in modern times.

“Wandering in Strange Lands” by Morgan Jerkins is an analysis of the migration of about six million Americans to the North West and Midwest from the South between 1916 and 1970. Even though the “Great Migration” provided new economic opportunities to blacks and transformed the US, it disconnected them from their sense of identity, their land and their roots. It is a deeply personal and fascinating exploration as Jerkins recreates the journeys of her ancestors up north from South Carolina and Georgia to California, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Walking in their footsteps, she is looking to get an understanding of the lineage of people that have been disrespected, disenfranchised and displaced through the centuries. Through hundreds of pages of transcriptions, photos and interviews, Jerkin weaves the threads of the oral history of her family that she traced through three centuries. These were supplemented with the recollections and insights of black people she talked with while doing her research. It is an illuminating and incisive take on family legacy, America’s present and past, and the life of a young black woman.

In Morgan Jerkins’ “Caul Baby,” we are introduced to Laila, a woman who cannot wait to be a mother, But she has lost several pregnancies and is at the point of despair. She believes this time will be different as she has sought the help of a powerful and old Harlem family known for their effective caul. It is powerful layer of skin that has healing powers. But the deal to get the caul fails, she loses her baby and she is heartbroken and overcome with rage and grief. But what she did not know is that there was a baby coming into the family. A child will be born to her niece Amara and given up to her so that she can raise it as her own. She had been looking for the Caul but Hallow her new child is born with it. Maman the family matriarch believes she will be the key that unlocks the prosperity the family needs so dearly. But as she grows up, the child feels that there is something not quite right as she starts doubting if the persons she had been taught to call mother really is her biological mother. Unlike her cousins, she is locked in the family’s house and not allowed to walk the streets or even go to school. Meanwhile, her real mother has become a successful lawyer and wants her daughter back. This sets the scene for a major showdown.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Morgan Jerkins

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