New & Noteworthy Visual Books, From Queer Love to the Soul of a Nation

Recent visual books of interest:

KAWS: What Party, by Brooklyn Museum. (Phaidon, $59.95.) With essays by the critic Daniel Birnbaum and the Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai, this monograph provides a comprehensive overview of the artist’s genre-crossing, Pop Art-inspired work.

QUEER LOVE IN COLOR, by Jamal Jordan. (Ten Speed Press, $28.) Growing out of the author and journalist’s work at The Times, this project combines photographs and stories of queer families and partners around the world, contributing new, diverse faces to the public image of love.

BLUE VIOLET, by Cig Harvey. (Monacelli, $60.) A British fine art photographer, Harvey celebrates the natural world through images, poems, diagrams — even recipes. This collection of her work is accompanied by text from Jacoba Urist, a journalist who covers art and architecture.

THE SOUL OF A NATION READER: Writings by and About Black American Artists, 1960-1980, by Mark Godfrey and Allie Biswas. (Gregory R. Miller, $39.95.) Revisiting an earlier era of unrest, this book gathers texts from Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison and more on Black art.

AMAZÔNIA, by Sebastião Salgado. (Taschen, $150.) The Brazilian photographer spent six years capturing the Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous inhabitants, making a case for their ecological and cultural importance.

What we’re reading:

Last year, the pandemic shut borders and brought air traffic to a standstill. But I was lucky enough to travel around Kenya, where I am based, and even to undertake a few international reporting trips — of course, after countless Covid tests. Visiting Sudan in December, I brought along the Kenyan writer Nanjala Nyabola’s book TRAVELLING WHILE BLACK, a rigorous meditation on what it means to move through the world as a Black, African woman. In 17 personal, political and philosophical essays, Nyabola goes from Italy to Haiti, Botswana to Nepal, probing ideas about mobility, race, gender, the links between passports and privilege. This is a thought-provoking book, punctuated with insights by thinkers from Edward Said to Toni Morrison to Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and a written exchange with Alice Walker. It’s also fun, even when it takes itself too seriously, as when Nyabola writes about the new “feminist frontier”: peeing in open spaces as a female backpacker.

—Abdi Latif Dahir, East Africa correspondent

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