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Pretty: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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By a prize-winning, young Black trans writer of outsized talent, a fierce and disciplined memoir about queerness, masculinity, and race.

Even as it shines light on the beauty and toxicity of Black masculinity from a transgender perspective—the tropes, the presumptions—Pretty is as much a powerful and tender love letter as it is a call for change.  

“I should be able to define myself, but I am not. Not by any governmental or cultural body,” Brookins writes. “Every day, I negotiate the space between who I am, how I’m perceived, and what I need to unlearn. People have assumed things about me, and I can’t change that. Every day, I am assumed to be a Black American man, though my ID says ‘female,’ and my heart says neither of the sort. What does it mean—to be a girl-turned-man when you’re something else entirely?” 

Informed by KB Brookins’s personal experiences growing up in Texas, those of other Black transgender masculine people, Black queer studies, and cultural criticism, Pretty is concerned with the marginalization suffered by a unique American constituency—whose condition is a world apart from that of cisgender, non-Black, and non-masculine people. Here is a memoir (a bildungsroman of sorts) about coming to terms with instantly and always being perceived as “other”

About the Author

KB BROOKINS is a Black, queer, and trans writer and cultural worker from Texas. They are the author of Freedom House and How to Identify Yourself with a Wound. Brookins has poems, essays, and installation art published in Academy of American Poets, Teen Vogue, Poetry Magazine, Prizer Arts & Letters, Okayplayer, Poetry Society of America, Autostraddle, and other venues. They have earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN America, Equality Texas, and others.
On social media, @earthtokb

Praise For…

Pretty is one of the most brilliantly constructed memoirs I’ve read. There is not one wasted paragraph or scene here. The language cradles but never ever coddles. Some art just makes you thankful. I am so thankful.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

“This book blew me away. Seamlessly transitioning between poetry and prose, Pretty is as fearless, incisive, and brilliant as they come. It's a gorgeous memoir that, despite pain and rejection, insists on hope, forgiveness, and Black trans joy. ‘You see gender, spinning and fusing into something freer?’ Brookins asks. Thanks to their life-changing book, I do, I really do. There's no doubt about it: Brookins is the real deal.” —Marisa Crane, author of I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

"[A] powerful reminder of the undeniable force and importance of Black queer stories. . . . A moving and vulnerable foray into what it means to navigate and embody desirability/desire, tenderness, softness, love, and masculinity as a queer and trans person, Brookins’ Pretty radiates honesty and authenticity. . . . Readers become intimately familiar with Brookins’ journey to self-love and acceptance, driven towards understanding through words that underline a shared humanity that everyone can relate to, regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation. . . . [Pretty] is a ramifying reminder of the strength of hope, and an indicator of the revolutionary power that exists in our stories, the possibilities that open up when Black, queer, trans stories like Brookins’ and memoirs like Pretty make their way into the hands of our community." —

"Brookins’s writing thrives on well-observed juxtapositions. . . . Linguistically, Brookins pulls equally from playful internet slang and queer theory, often joining both syntaxes in the poems that punctuate each chapter. . . . Dazzling. . . . Brookins is a writer to watch." Publishers Weekly

“This book, above all, offers a potent narrative of learning to live authentically, no matter the circumstances and challenges. Brookins relays their experiences and opinions with candor. . . . The most compelling threads of the text relate the author’s journey of self-actualization, from questioning ideas of gender to shedding shame. 'My life’s work is to make Black people, queer people, and masculine people fall in love with who they are and shed the daily violence of betraying themselves and others,' they write. This book is a powerful testament to that. An inspiring and deeply human work.” Kirkus Reviews

“KB Brookins’ debut memoir arrives when we need it most. . . . Striking. . . . Pretty offers far more than just pretty words—Brookins tells their side of the story as an act of resistance against those who would silence them.” —BookPage

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593537145
ISBN-10: 0593537149
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English