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How to Live Free in a Dangerous World

A Decolonial Memoir

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“Phenomenal.... A memoir that opens into the world, with brilliance, courage, and elegant prose.... This is a book to read, read again, and remember.”—Imani Perry, New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award winner South to America

Poet and journalist Shayla Lawson follows their National Book Critics Circle finalist This Is Major with these daring and exquisitely crafted essays, where Lawson journeys across the globe, finds beauty in tumultuous times, and powerfully disrupts the constraints of race, gender, and disability.

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2024 by Elle, Them, Book Riot, LitHub, Stylecaster, and Chicago Review of Books

In their new book, Shayla Lawson reveals how traveling can itself be a political act, when it can be a dangerous world to be Black, femme, nonbinary, and disabled. With their signature prose, at turns bold, muscular, and luminous, Shayla Lawson travels the world to explore deeper meanings held within love, time, and the self.

Through encounters with a gorgeous gondolier in Venice, an ex-husband in the Netherlands, and a lost love on New Year’s Eve in Mexico City, Lawson’s travels bring unexpected wisdom about life in and out of love. They learn the strength of friendships and the dangers of beauty during a narrow escape in Egypt. They examine Blackness in post-dictatorship Zimbabwe, then take us on a secretive tour of Black freedom movements in Portugal.

Through a deeply insightful journey, Lawson leads readers from a castle in France to a hula hoop competition in Jamaica to a traditional theater in Tokyo to a Prince concert in Minnesota and, finally, to finding liberation on a beach in Bermuda, exploring each location—and their deepest emotions—to the fullest. In the end, they discover how the trials of marriage, grief, and missed connections can lead to self-transformation and unimagined new freedoms.
© Nicholas Nichols
Shayla Lawson is the author of This is Major, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle and the LAMBDA Literary Award, and two poetry collections. Lawson has written for New York Magazine, Salon, ESPN, and Paper, and earned fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Artist Colony. They reside in Lexington, Kentucky. They've “lived” everywhere. View titles by Shayla Lawson
Discussion Guide for How to Live Free in a Dangerous World

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

About

“Phenomenal.... A memoir that opens into the world, with brilliance, courage, and elegant prose.... This is a book to read, read again, and remember.”—Imani Perry, New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award winner South to America

Poet and journalist Shayla Lawson follows their National Book Critics Circle finalist This Is Major with these daring and exquisitely crafted essays, where Lawson journeys across the globe, finds beauty in tumultuous times, and powerfully disrupts the constraints of race, gender, and disability.

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2024 by Elle, Them, Book Riot, LitHub, Stylecaster, and Chicago Review of Books

In their new book, Shayla Lawson reveals how traveling can itself be a political act, when it can be a dangerous world to be Black, femme, nonbinary, and disabled. With their signature prose, at turns bold, muscular, and luminous, Shayla Lawson travels the world to explore deeper meanings held within love, time, and the self.

Through encounters with a gorgeous gondolier in Venice, an ex-husband in the Netherlands, and a lost love on New Year’s Eve in Mexico City, Lawson’s travels bring unexpected wisdom about life in and out of love. They learn the strength of friendships and the dangers of beauty during a narrow escape in Egypt. They examine Blackness in post-dictatorship Zimbabwe, then take us on a secretive tour of Black freedom movements in Portugal.

Through a deeply insightful journey, Lawson leads readers from a castle in France to a hula hoop competition in Jamaica to a traditional theater in Tokyo to a Prince concert in Minnesota and, finally, to finding liberation on a beach in Bermuda, exploring each location—and their deepest emotions—to the fullest. In the end, they discover how the trials of marriage, grief, and missed connections can lead to self-transformation and unimagined new freedoms.

Author

© Nicholas Nichols
Shayla Lawson is the author of This is Major, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle and the LAMBDA Literary Award, and two poetry collections. Lawson has written for New York Magazine, Salon, ESPN, and Paper, and earned fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Artist Colony. They reside in Lexington, Kentucky. They've “lived” everywhere. View titles by Shayla Lawson

Guides

Discussion Guide for How to Live Free in a Dangerous World

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

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