Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now
a collection of essays by
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*A Best Book of 2019 —Pop Matters
*A Most Anticipated Book of 2019 —LitReactor, The A.V. Club, Big Other
"Beautiful, brilliant, bold... Tantamount to a slice from the Americana songbook. These essays are ballads, images from the self, isolated and marginalized in other countries and in his own land. These are songs of identity and sexuality and expectations the world has of African American males from those perspectives. Here's hoping this book will mark the start of a long and varied journey for Perry. If the goal of a literary traveler is to show how connected we are to one another, his debut collection is an assured indication of deeper glories yet to come."
—Christopher John Stephens, PopMatters
With luminous insight and fervent prose, Andre Perry’s debut collection of personal essays, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, travels from Washington DC to Iowa City to Hong Kong in search of both individual and national identity. While displaying tenderness and a disarming honesty, Perry catalogs racial degradations committed on the campuses of elite universities and liberal bastions like San Francisco while coming of age in America.
The essays in Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now take the form of personal reflection, multiple choice questions, screenplays, and imagined talk-show conversations, while traversing the daily minefields of childhood schoolyards and Midwestern dive-bars. The impression of Perry’s personal journey is arresting and beguiling, while announcing the author’s arrival as a formidable American voice.
READ AN EXCERPT HERE:
The Paris Review | 11/25/2019
The Whole Fucking Paradigm: an excerpt from the essay "American Gray Space."
READ ANOTHER EXCERPT HERE:
Guernica Magazine | 11/11/2019
No Country: In an excerpt from his new book of essays, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, Andre Perry discusses race, identity, moving around the US, and the Midwest.
Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.
Best Books of 2019: Non-Fiction
—Christopher John Stephens, Pop Matters
"A complete, deep, satisfying read... The variety of structures, formats, and rhythms Perry uses in Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now is extraordinary... These essays shine with broken humanity and announce the arrival of a new voice in contemporary nonfiction, but they do so with heaps of melancholia and frustration instead of answers. That Perry can hurt us and keep us asking for more is a testament to his talent as a storyteller."
—Gabino Iglesias, NPR
"An interrogation of language, pop culture, society, and the self, Andre Perry’s essay collection Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now dissects uncomfortable truths and universalities... With his frank, empathetic tone and no-nonsense prose, Andre Perry is a fresh American voice that demands to be heard."
—Danielle Ballantyne, Foreword Reviews
"Beautiful, brilliant, bold...Tantamount to a slice from the Americana songbook. These essays are ballads, images from the self, isolated and marginalized in other countries and in his own land. These are songs of identity and sexuality and expectations the world has of African American males from those perspectives. Here's hoping this book will mark the start of a long and varied journey for Perry. If the goal of a literary traveler is to show how connected we are to one another, his debut collection is an assured indication of deeper glories yet to come.”
—Christopher John Stephens, PopMatters
"The strong writing, creative genre use, and authentic voice add up to some high-impact essays... careful readers will take time to reflect and perhaps gain new awareness and understanding."
—Library Journal, review by Stefanie Hollmichel, Univ. of St. Thomas Law Lib., Minneapolis
"The interconnected essays that make up Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now by Andre Perry are affecting, timely, and make for a debut you can’t put down from a new and significant voice in nonfiction... with Perry as our guide, we are more than willing to follow him as he dispenses insight in each essay with an unclouded lens, and expressive, lyrical language that sings right off the page. An astounding debut."
—Nicholas John-Francis Claro, Arkansas International
"Perry approaches creative nonfiction with fresh eyes and a contemporary perspective... sharp, witty, and precise."
—Beth Mowbray, The Nerd Daily
"Perry’s lived experience and ability to make you look through a wider view makes these pieces successful."
—Joshua Bohnsack, New City
"Perry’s recollections will linger in our collective and personal consciences, serving as a call to consider our perceptions of blackness in American culture."
—William Blair, Little Village, Issue 273
"A debut collection of interrelated essays finds a young writer trying to navigate his way through identity and challenges of race, privilege, sexuality, and culture. Reflective and creative... [Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now is] a promising first book."
"[Andre Perry's] essays are most satisfying for their largely meandering nature, the abstention from a resolution. Most pieces end on quiet, melancholic notes, without a way out."
—Brandon Yu, San Francisco Chronicle, "Andre Perry’s essays grapple with San Francisco delusions"
"Perry’s debut collection of essays, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, charts a course into his past, offering a vision complete with imagined talk-show interviews, fragments of scripts and even multiple-choice questions."
—Drew Tewksbury, Los Angeles Times
"Andre Perry’s debut collection of personal essays, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, unearths the complex dynamics of varying social, racial, class, and political privileges buried in every apartment party and barroom concert and late-night debate of his twenties... Perry seamlessly weaves throughout his personal stories lush culture criticism and commentary."
—Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books
"Dispatching from the shallows of blackness, race, and tremendous desire, the expositions of Perry’s urgent debut essay collection are among some of the finest works of literature I’ve read all year."
—Paris Close, Paperback Paris
"In addition to his creative, thoughtful, and bold writing on race and culture, Perry shares love stories and music stories, most memorably in the title essay, which braids a stateside relationship's dissolution with a music-writing trip to Hong Kong. Especially because of the evocative way Perry writes about his past in charged scenes that often buzz with music, fans of Hanif Abdurraqib's and Jessica Hopper's recent books will want to take note."
—Annie Bostrom, Booklist
"I am so happy that I discovered Andre Perry and his moving essays. His ability to announce even the most egregious events with the beauty of his flowing narrative will stay with me for a long time. I recommend this book as a true gift of art. Enjoy your own discovery."
—Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore (Spokane, WA)
"[Perry's] essays are meandering and misshapen, slippery and jagged, they wriggle and bite. But, read them for a bit, sit with them and get to know them, and you find they’re also gentle and wise."
—Rufus F., Ordinary Times
"Some of Us Are Hungry Now is like nothing I have ever experienced. The brilliance, transparency, and earnest exploration of race, class, politics, sexuality, and notions of home are collectively so nuanced that I am certain this book is like a comet—you might never see the likes of it again. With a critical gaze as sharp as James Baldwin's, and the divineness of a cinematic masterpiece as artistically complex and boundless as Moonlight, Andre Perry knows what it means to pull weeping from the soul. To be his reader is not merely an honor but a necessity. This is a book to treasure and to uphold for its genre-bending prowess and reach into the depths of popular culture, as one of the great responses to the question, what are we? Listen to Perry, for his voice is alive now, and real in a time that we, in this America, need more than ever. In these daring pages—unafraid, even in the dark—a literary star lights the sky."
—Tameka Cage Conley, PhD
"The gift of Some Of Us Are Very Hungry Now is in its brilliant and lyrical meandering. Andre Perry is a generous writer—one who is unafraid of the vulnerability that exists in inviting readers into a world that questions place and belonging. This book is essential, for how it asks with no expectation of answer."
—Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, A Fortune for Your Disaster, Go Ahead in the Rain
"Andre Perry’s writing is utterly alive, scene-setting, visceral, candid and punk. Perry’s prose is transporting in this vivid experimental memoir, tackling gentrification, music, sexuality and the mutability of identity. Perry takes the reader along as he travels the world and untangles who he is from particular American racist mythologies. A remarkable debut."
—Jessica Hopper, author of Night Moves
"In this complex and compelling collection, Andre Perry holds his focus on all who seek to anonymize his sensitive and singular voice. His unwavering critical eye is attended by a kind of heartsick self-awareness; while he might pull a few punches from those who deserve it, he never spares himself."
—Amelia Gray, author of Isadora
"Please welcome Andre Perry and give him your attention. With an arsenal of honesty, outrage, and vulnerability, his essays are going to jolt you out of the dullness of whatever room you’re reading in and shove you into someplace new. It’ll feel uncomfortable, sometimes hilarious, heartbreaking often, and ultimately transcendent."
—John D'Agata, author of Halls of Fame, About a Mountain, and The Lifespan of a Fact
"Perry’s essay collection contains personal, deeply felt ruminations on identity, racism, and belonging."
—D.R. Baker, Book Riot '6 Great Books that Experiment with Text and Genre'
"Two Dollar Radio publishes outstanding literature, and this is a great book of essays that seems to present an awesome voice I'm not familiar with tackling a plethora of timely themes."
—Gabino Iglesias, LitReactor 'The Most Anticipated Books of 2019: The Second Half'
A "Most Anticipated Book of 2019"
—John Madera, Big Other
Andre Perry is an essayist and arts advocate. He received his MFA from the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program and his work has appeared in The Believer, Catapult, Granta and other journals. He co-founded Iowa City's Mission Creek Festival, a celebration of music and literature, as well as the multidisciplinary festival of creative process, Witching Hour. He continues to live and work in Iowa City. This is his first book.
View select author interviews, tour dates, and more here: Andre Perry author page
Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now!
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781937512835
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-937512-84-2
RELEASE DATE: 11/12/2019
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).
Book Club and Reader Guide: Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. The essays in this collection are broken up into three sections — Coastland, Heartland, Heart. What effect does this sectioning have on the collection as a whole? Why do you think the author chose this structure?
2. In many of his essays, Perry explores how racism in the U.S. overtly continues to plague his daily life, as well as how it suddenly courses through even the most unexpected of situations. Which of the author’s personal experiences of feeling the effects of racism resonated with you the most?
3. The author uses experimental formats in some of the essays. What about this technique do you think is effective, or not?
4. In the title essay, “Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now,” Andre Perry braids two experiences together: a trip to Hong Kong to study abroad and to cover the local underground music scene, and the ending days of a failed romantic relationship in Iowa City. Why do you think the author chose to intertwine these two stories? What was the effect on you of having his experiences juxtaposed this way?
5. A common theme running through many of the essays in this collection is the violence of language. What are some ways that you’ve witnessed language used as a weapon?
6. Many of the essays use music as a starting point to then discuss thornier subjects, whether it be a Kendrick Lamar concert in Iowa City, or Elvis Costello’s infamous dismissal of Ray Charles. What do you feel is effective or not about taking something as subjective and universal as music to then grapple with hard truths?
7. In following the author through his formative years, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now seems to be an essay collection on a quest for identity, both individual, and national. Do you feel as though this is a constant question we’re asking ourselves in a society, or is identity something more essential now in our emotionally and politically charged present situation?
8. While following the author from his childhood in D.C., to the arts scene in San Francisco, to grad school in Iowa City, many of the essays don’t always reflect the author in a flattering light. What do you feel is essential about this sometimes unflinching honesty in the process of telling a coming-of-age story?
9. The ending section is made up of a set of letters written to a woman who was not introduced in any of the preceding essays. Why do you think the author made this choice? What conclusions did you draw from the section, and from it being the ending of the collection as a whole?
10. After reading Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, have your views on topics touched upon in the essays changed at all? If so, how?