White Girls, Hilton Als’s first book since “The Women” seventeen years ago, finds one of The New Yorker’s boldest cultural critics deftly weaving together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of “white girls,” as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Malcolm X and Flannery O’Connor. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and non-fiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time.
Congratulations to Hilton for winning the Windham-Campbell prize in nonfiction!
Interviews and Extras:
Interested in previewing White Girls? GUERNICA has excerpted White Girls for your reading pleasure.
Lambda Literary took time to talk with Hilton about the book’s double-take title, his literary influences, and the wisdom of Richard Pryor.
Listen to an interview with Hilton Als on the KCRW podcast.
The New Yorker included White Girls in their “Books to Watch Out For: November.”
Check out the six questions Buzzfeed asked Hilton Als on his work.
“It’s the Queers who made me”: Hazlitt’s interview with Hilton Als now available.
Blurred lines between race and identity, MSNBC’s sit down interview with Hilton Als is streaming now.
Tune into Hilton Als on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, in which the author discusses his new book of essays and why the title encompasses not only Flannery O’Connor and Louise Brooks, but also Truman Capote and Michael Jackson.
Praise for White Girls:
One of the A.V. Club’s Favorite Books of the Year!
“I read Als not only because he is utterly extraordinary, which he is, but for the reason one is often drawn to the best writers—because one has a sense that one’s life might depend on them. White Girls is a book, a dream, an enemy, a friend, and, yes, the read of the year.”
“Hilton Als’s White Girls gave me a gift very few books do: of hearing a voice that’s new, that comes as if from a different room. A nonsensical thing to say in one sense: he’s been writing brilliantly and visibly for almost 20 years. But there’s something about the work in this book. It’s a leap forward not merely for Als as a writer but for the peculiar American genre of culture-crit-as-autobiography. Its bravery lies in a set refusal to allow itself all sorts of illusions—about race, about sex, about American art—and the subtlety of its thinking is wedded maypole-fashion to a real confessional lyricism. had a lot of black gay man in us, Als taught me that I have a lot of white girl in me, too, and so does he. And so do you, is where it gets interesting. If you think that sounds like another blurb-job or post-postmodern twaddle, I defy you to read this book and come away with a mind unchanged.”
—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead
“Hilton Als takes the reader on a wild ride through the complex, often rough, terrain of art, music, sexuality, race. What he writes—especially about Michael Jackson, Eminem, Louise Brooks, Richard Pryor, Gone With the Wind—is riveting.”
“Effortless, honest and fearless”
––Rich Benjamin, The New York Times Book Review
“Hilton Als’s White Girls (McSweeney’s)—has reached out and grabbed me by my lapels.”
“Als’ work is so much more than simply writing about being black or gay or smart. It’s about being human.”
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Als is pyrotechnic, lifting off the page in a blast of stinging light and concussive booms that somehow coalesce into profound cultural and psychological illuminations.”
“Incisive cultural criticism.”
—Roxane Gay, The Nation
“[E]verything Als is saying is a vivid, bright truth”
“Als has created a work of art.”
—Christopher Bollen, Interview Magazine
“Brilliant.”––NY Journal of Books
“Als is one of the most consistently unpredictable and surprising essayists out there, an author who confounds our expectations virtually every time he writes.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A comprehensive and utterly lovely collection of one of the best writers around.”
“Nothing short of masterful.”
“Captivating.” —Entertainment Weekly
“[Hilton] Als interweaves personal revelation with cultural touchstones, sometimes hopping from topic to topic at a breakneck speed, other times examining concepts so strategically and methodically his words become scalpels, flaying open unacknowledged bias, privilege, and conflict where he sees it.”
–The A.V. Club
“[Als] is a poet on the page, and his insistence on breaking the essay form defines his liberation as a writer.”
“[Hilton Als] is above all a writer fascinated by people: their little habits and turns of phrase, their multi-layered sexualities, and their unfathomable relationships to each other or, in the case of his famous subjects, to the world.” –UTNE
“Mr. Als is a national treasure.”
—the New York Observer
”[White Girls] is a book that rewards rereading if not requires it, but that rewards the investment amply, if not twofold.” —Pittsburgh Post-GazetteHilton Als talks about White Girls: