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Hafizah Augustus Geter

The Black Period: On Personhood, Race, and Origin

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Acclaimed poet Hafizah Augustus Geter reclaims her origin story in this “lyrical memoir” (The New Yorker)—combining biting criticism and haunting visuals.

“Hafizah Augustus Geter is a genuine artist, not bound by genre or form. Her only loyalty is the harrowing beauty of the truth.”—Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

Winner of the PEN Open Book Award • Winner of the Lambda Literary Award • A New Yorker Best Book of the Year • A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year• A Brittle Paper Notable African Book of the Year • Finalist for the Chautauqua Prize

“I say, ‘the Black Period,’ and mean ‘home’ in all its shapeshifting ways.” A book of great hope, Hafizah Augustus Geter’s The Black Period creates a map for how to survive: a country, a closet, a mother’s death, and the terror of becoming who we are in a world not built to accommodate diverse identities.

At nineteen, she suddenly lost her mother to a stroke. Weeks later, her father became so heartsick that he needed a triple bypass. Amid the crumbling of her world, Hafizah struggled to know how to mourn a Muslim woman in a freshly post-9/11 America. Weaving through a childhood populated with southern and Nigerian relatives, her days in a small Catholic school, and learning to accept her own sexuality, and in the face of a chronic pain disability that sends her pinballing through the grind that is the American Dream, Hafizah discovers that grief is a political condition. In confronting the many layers of existence that the world tries to deny, it becomes clear that in order to emerge from erasure, she must map out her own narrative.

Through a unique combination of gripping memoir, history, political analysis, cultural criticism, and Afrofuturist thought—alongside stunning original artwork created by her father, renowned artist Tyrone Geter—Hafizah leans into her parents’ lessons on the art of Black revision to create a space for the beauty of Blackness, Islam, disability, and queerness to flourish.

As exquisitely told as it is innovative, and with a lyricism that dazzles,
 The Black Period is a reminder that joy and tenderness require courage, too.