Imani Perry and her book, South to America

Imani Perry receives National Book Award for Nonfiction for ‘South to America’

Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies, has received the 2022 National Book Award for Nonfiction for “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation” (HarperCollins/Ecco Press, 2022).

“Alabama now has a National Book Award,” said Perry, a native of Birmingham, accepting the award in front of a live audience at the National Book Award ceremony, held Nov. 16 in New York City, with a speech that included a thank-you to Princeton’s Department of African American Studies, among a generous list of acknowledgments.

She said: “We may write in solitude but we in labor in solidarity. Community is never easy but absolutely necessary, may we meet the challenges of a broken world together, making intercessions with love unbound and heart without end.”

The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature published in the United States, expand its audience and ensure that books have a prominent place in our culture.

“South to America” is a narrative journey through the South, maintaining that one must understand the region in order to understand America.

“South to America” was also recently named as one of The New Yorker’s best books of 2022, and Time magazine’s "100 Must Read Books of 2022 and "10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2022.”

This fall, Perry is teaching two undergraduate courses, “African American Studies and the Philosophy of Race” and “Diversity in Black America.”

Perry is also the author of Breathe: A Letter to My Sons”; “May We Forever Stand,” a cultural history of the song “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is known as the Black national anthem; “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry”; “Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation”; and “More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States.”