They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us
a collection of essays by
*2018 "12 best books to give this holiday season" —TODAY (Elizabeth Acevedo)
*Best Books of 2018 —Rolling Stone
*Best Books of 2017 —NPR, Buzzfeed, Paste Magazine, Esquire, Chicago Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, CBC, Stereogum, National Post, Entropy, Heavy, Book Riot, Chicago Review of Books, The Los Angeles Review, Michigan Daily
*American Booksellers Association (ABA) 'December 2017 Indie Next List Great Reads'
*Midwest Indie Bestseller
“A much-needed collection for our time. [Abdurraqib] has proven to be one of the most essential voices of his generation.”
—Juan Vidal, NPR
In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.
In the wake of the nightclub attacks in Paris, he recalls how he sought refuge as a teenager in music, at shows, and wonders whether the next generation of young Muslims will not be afforded that opportunity now. While discussing the everyday threat to the lives of black Americans, Abdurraqib recounts the first time he was ordered to the ground by police officers: for attempting to enter his own car.
In essays that have been published by the New York Times, MTV, and Pitchfork, among others—along with original, previously unreleased essays—Abdurraqib uses music and culture as a lens through which to view our world, so that we might better understand ourselves, and in so doing proves himself a bellwether for our times.
Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.
"Rhythmic repetition makes for roaring passages that beg to be read aloud, but for all his poetic muscularity, Abdurraqib understands the value of linguistic economy."
—The Washington Post
"The Ohio poet/critic digs deep into what it means to be American in our moment — and how much music has to do with it."
—Rolling Stone, The Best Music Books of 2018
"Abdurraqib writes about the music he holds dear, and the experiences which have embedded this music in his life, with such lyricism that the writing nears music itself—and his love of the subject is palpable."
—Buzzfeed, Best Nonfiction Books Of 2017
"Abdurraqib explores America through its popular culture."
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn, 2017 Favorites
"With a voice that rings clear off the page, Abdurraqib is an accomplished wordsmith, whose reflections on pop culture are intensely personal, political and utterly compelling."
"Abdurraqib will make you think critically about music and the culture it influences, and his thoughts will stay with you long after you’ve tunneled through... his wonderful book."
—Stereogum, Recommended Reading 2017
"Poignant and important. Abdurraqib offers a perspective that connects music, art, and memory, with the political realities of our time."
—Esquire, Best Books of 2017
“Establishes Abdurraqib as a major rock critic—polished and deft and original in a searchingly unpolished way."
—Robert Christgau, Barnes and Noble Review
"Funny, painful, precise, desperate, and loving throughout. Not a day has sounded the same since I read him."
—Greil Marcus, Village Voice
"Essential, gripping reading."
—Tobias Carroll, Pitchfork
"A much-needed collection for our time. [Abdurraqib] has proven to be one of the most essential voices of his generation.”
—Juan Vidal, NPR
"A collection of death-defying protest songs for the Black Lives Matter era."
—Chicago Tribune, Best books of 2017
"Challenging and lyrical, his writing delivers compelling observations in bite-sized pieces, allowing you to digest the deeper ramifications of his insights."
—Paste, The 20 Best Nonfiction Books of 2017
"It’s a little bit of comfort when you think about it, that... Abdurraqib has provided us with an essay collection that might help make some small sense of what’s going on."
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn, 'Hanif Abdurraqib’s Great American Essay Collection'
"Abdurraqib's poetic sentence makes me see fireworks in a new way. It ingeniously reverses their motion: Instead of tendrils of light exploding outward, overwriting the darkness, these fireworks gather the darkness into themselves. They are like teenagers stuffing their pockets with candy, ravenous for the night. Violent illuminations arriving, out of nowhere, to hoard the darkness. That would be something worth staring at."
—New York Times Magazine, Sam Anderson, 'New Sentences' column
"Abdurraqib unites familiar sounds with fresh observations about music and the state of contemporary America... essential, gripping reading."
—Pitchfork, 16 Favorite Music Books of 2017
"Abdurraqib places the reader in front of the performer and commands them to see beyond the music, to glimpse the societal impact of popular performers and indie heroes alike, and how they reflect the culture that bears them."
"Abdurraqib’s essay collection on the convergence of identity politics, music, sports and culture feels important."
—National Post, The Best Books of the Year (2017)
"This tome stands as a bold statement for a great writer and a complete breath of life from a rare thinker."
—New Noise Magazine
"One of the stand-out essay collections of 2017."
—The Los Angeles Review
"Abdurraqib writes facing his people... and draws the rest of us to the circle’s edge with his discerning eye."
"As powerful and touching as anything I’ve read this year, and Abdurraqib has emerged as the Ta-Nehisi Coates of popular culture."
—James Mann, The Big Takeover
"A collection of death-defying protest songs for the Black Lives Matter era."
—Walton Muyumba, Chicago Tribune
"A penetrating and profoundly timely collection of essays. It is music writing at its sharpest, most perceptive, and most urgent... Most remarkable, perhaps, is Abdurraqib’s ability to perceive and define connections between his subjects, himself, and the fractured, complicated culture in which we live."
—Foreword Reviews (starred)
"Abdurraqib’s essay collection is mesmerizing and deeply perceptive... filled with honesty, providing the reader with the sensation of seeing the world through fresh eyes."
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
—Library Journal (starred)
"Abdurraqib writes with uninhibited curiosity and insight about music and its ties to culture and memory, life and death, on levels personal, political, and universal."
"A towering work full of insightful observations about everything from the legacy of Nina Simone to the music of Bruce Springsteen... a powerful work about art, society, and the perspective through which its author regards both."
"A joyful requiem—emphasis on joyful. Abdurraqib has written a guide for the living as well as a memorial for those we have lost."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Moving seamlessly from Fall Out Boy to Nina Simone, from Bruce Springsteen to the death of Mike Brown, Abdurraqib centers this masterful collection of essays not only around music and the way it’s shaped and carried him through life, but the tiny sparks that help us survive."
"Some of the most dynamic writing about music I’ve ever read. The way Abdurraqib ties the artists, concerts, and music culture he is covering into current events can make you care about music you have never even heard."
—Robert Sindelar, Board President, American Booksellers Association (ABA)
"These are essays about music, but also about culture, race, and life in America today."
—Book Riot, 20 Great Essay Collections from 2017
"Read this, then listen back—you’re sure to hear something new."
"Erudite writing from an author struggling to find meaning through music."
"Certain writers can take a pop song or musician as their subject and turn what they write into a stunning evocation of some aspect of society. That’s very much the case with Hanif Abdurraqib, and in this new collection he covers everything from the Columbus punk scene to Chance the Rapper, coming up with stunning observations along the way."
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Uses [seemingly random moments] to try and explore some of the most difficult questions about race, violence, and prejudice facing Americans, specifically Americans of color, today."
"Hanif Abdurraqib's music writing possesses a singular, impossible magic—he cracks open the very personal nature of fandom with empathy and skepticism in equal measure."
"Abdurraqib bridges the bravado and bling of praise with the blood and tears of elegy."
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His most recent book, a New York Times bestseller, is Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest (University of Texas Press). His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. With Big Lucks, he released a limited edition chapbook, Vintage Sadness, in summer 2017. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He is a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow, an interviewer at Union Station Magazine, and a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine. He is a member of the poetry collective Echo Hotel with poet/essayist Eve Ewing.
His next books are Go Ahead in the Rain, a biography of A Tribe Called Quest due out in 2019 by University of Texas Press, and They Don't Dance No' Mo', due out in 2020 by Random House.
UPCOMING EVENTS WITH HANIF: check out his author website. To schedule an event with Hanif, please email directly to: t (at) beotis (dot) com
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LIST PRICE: $16.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781937512651
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-937512-66-8
RELEASE DATE: 11/2017
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Inside printed on Enviro 100% post-consumer EcoLogo certified paper, processed chlorine free and manufactured using biogas energy.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).