The Message

The Message

About the Book

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Between the World and Me journeys to three resonant sites of conflict to explore how the stories we tell—and the ones we don’t—shape our realities.

Ta-Nehisi Coates originally set out 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.

In the first of the book’s three intertwining essays, Coates, on his first trip to Africa, finds himself in two places at once: in Dakar, a modern city in Senegal, and in a mythic kingdom in his mind. Then he takes readers along with him to Columbia, South Carolina, where he reports on his own book’s banning, but also explores the larger backlash to the nation’s recent reckoning with history and the deeply rooted American mythology so visible in that city—a capital of the Confederacy with statues of segregationists looming over its public squares. Finally, in the book’s longest section, Coates travels to Palestine, where he sees with devastating clarity how easily we are misled by nationalist narratives, and the tragedy that lies in the clash between the stories we tell and the reality of life on the ground. 

Written at a dramatic moment in American and global life, this work from one of the country’s most important writers is about the urgent need to untangle ourselves from the destructive myths that shape our world—and our own souls—and embrace the liberating power of even the most difficult truths.
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Praise for The Message

Praise for Ta-Nehisi Coates

“[Coates] is intellectually fearless . . . unshackled by political or racial ideology, humane in his judgments, respectful of facts, acutely aware of the difference between what is knowable and what is not.”The New Yorker

“Anyone who wants to know who we are—and where we are now—must sit with [Coates] for a good while.”The New York Times Book Review

“Coates is frequently lauded as one of America’s most important writers on the subject of race today, but this in fact undersells him: Coates is one of America’s most important writers on the subject of America today.”Slate

“[Coates’s] prose style and literary prowess are hip-hop sharpened: he believes in the art of dexterous reference, potent, lyrical critique and political storytelling. . . . As the best critics do, Coates draws us into conversation, into argument, rather than closing off discourse with canned proclamations or static resolutions.”The Baltimore Sun
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About the Author

Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, The Water Dancer, and Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015. He is the recipient of a National Magazine Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. He is currently the Sterling Brown endowed chair at Howard University in the English department. More by Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Random House Publishing Group