Hilton Als' White Girls (McSweeney's), his first book in 14 years, is a series of essays that defy easy categorization - in each he takes the risk to say what must be said. Countering books that define "blackness" in the title like Richard Wright's Black Boy, Als, a black gay male, is interested in making words opaque. He chronicles longing, loss of loved ones, and the establishment of his voice in the New York of the late '80s and '90s. He looks back to Richard Pryor and forward to Eminem. His "white girls" are neither necessarily girls nor white. They are Diana Vreeland, Michael Jackson, Truman Capote, Louise Little. He posits: what if we existed in a world that was not 'categorizable?' Wouldn't we be left with something more humane and complicated?
Read an excerpt from White Girls.
This interview originally aired on February 27, 2014.