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Thomas Chatterton Williams

Thomas Chatterton Williams is a contributing writer at New York Times Magazine. His next book is about race in America.

Zadie Smith

Thomas Chatterton Williams, 30 August 2018

Several​ of the last century’s finest non-fiction writers – Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin – longed to be novelists. In interviews with the Paris Review, each touched on the tension and insecurity involved in their dual métier. Sontag wrote in surprisingly aspirational tones of ‘the novelist [I’d] finally given myself permission to be’....

Colson Whitehead

Thomas Chatterton Williams, 17 November 2016

Over the past few years, a consensus has taken shape online and also in more traditional arenas of American political activism and cultural production. Inspired by the disproportionate impact of the economic collapse of 2008 and by growing awareness of the failure of the policy of mass incarceration as well as scores of high-profile travesties of justice – notably the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer, George Zimmerman – alongside many more ambiguous affronts, the rapturous, impossibly short-lived post-raciality of the first black presidency has been usurped by a backward-looking social consciousness best expressed by the internet neologism ‘wokeness’.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Thomas Chatterton Williams, 3 December 2015

Soon after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, a book called The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace was published, describing one New Jersey man’s dual existence as a top student at Yale and an incorrigible drug dealer.  Peace was an alarmingly precocious black boy whose mother toiled in hospital kitchens to raise the money to send him to parochial schools, where he thrived. His father, a magnetic hustler his mother refused to marry, was an active presence in his early life; he taught his son how to use his fists and decode the logic of the streets. 

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