South to America - Imani Perry

South to America

By Imani Perry

  • Release Date: 2022-01-25
  • Genre: United States
Score: 4
From 46 Ratings




“An elegant meditation on the complexities of the American South—and thus of America—by an esteemed daughter of the South and one of the great intellectuals of our time. An inspiration.” —Isabel Wilkerson

An essential, surprising journey through the history, rituals, and landscapes of the American South—and a revelatory argument for why you must understand the South in order to understand America

We all think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Imani Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.

This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. Her journey is full of detours, deep dives, and surprising encounters with places and people. She renders Southerners from all walks of life with sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern life.

Weaving together stories of immigrant communities, contemporary artists, exploitative opportunists, enslaved peoples, unsung heroes, her own ancestors, and her lived experiences, Imani Perry crafts a tapestry unlike any other. With uncommon insight and breathtaking clarity, South to America offers an assertion that if we want to build a more humane future for the United States, we must center our concern below the Mason-Dixon Line.  

A Recommended Read from: The New Yorker • The New York Times • TIME • Oprah Daily • USA Today • Vulture • Essence • Esquire • W Magazine • Atlanta Journal-Constitution • PopSugar • Book Riot • Chicago Review of Books • Electric Literature • Lit Hub 


  • The Soul of a Nation

    By Richard Bakare
    South to America is excellent in every way. Imani Perry’s brilliant use of lyrical language paints vivid vistas in your mind of the South that are both beautiful and gut wrenching. Most importantly she reminds us that the very definition of what constitutes the South is limited compared to how global and reaching it is on the United States mainland. That said she goes about covering every side of the conversation about race in America with grace and academic integrity. While also demonstrating again and again the revisionist history that is the foundation of the idea of American Exceptionalism. The history we are taught is at best murky and Perry challenges the bigoted portrayal of Black people in America. Along the way she shows how moral inconsistencies abound. Even in the hardest moments to swallow Perry demonstrates how blood, migratory patterns, and economic engines bind, or more aptly make indebted, the North to the South. Even yet, the South, and Black America, goes unthanked for its deep and lasting cultural impacts on the broader American culture. Beyond the history we get candid personal anecdotes and interviews that show how the the macro civil rights movement impacts individual outcomes. The personal touch makes this book read at times like a love story to Black America and at others a warning. The praise highlighting the ways in which Black culture is distinct and has shaped the broader American culture. The warning is a reminder of the traps, imposed and self-inflicted, that hold us back. This book should find a home comfortably in between Heather McGee’s “The Sum of Us” and Isabelle Wilkerson’s “Caste” on most book shelves.