Cottom’s book, ‘Thick: And Other Essays,’ named a National Book Award finalist

VCU professor has been featured in The New York Times and on NPR, PBS and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

A portrait of Tressie McMillan Cottom on the right and the book cover of "Thick" on the left.

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s book is a collection of essays that offers a multifaceted portrayal of the experience of black womanhood. (University Public Affairs)

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s “Thick: And Other Essays” was among the five books announced on Tuesday as finalists for this year’s National Book Award for Nonfiction.

Cottom’s book, published by The New Press, is a collection of essays that offers a multifaceted portrayal of the experience of black womanhood, exploring topics including beauty, media, money and pop culture. The book has been featured in NPR’s “On Point,” Time, PBS, VIBE, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times. Cottom, Ph.D., also was interviewed on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” shortly after the book’s publication in January. In The New York Times Book Review, Camille Acker wrote, “‘Thick’ is sure to become a classic.”

The National Book Foundation previously announced “Thick” as one of 10 books selected for the longlist for the award. The National Book Award winners will be announced Nov. 20. Other categories include fiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature.

“I am stunned and honored to be recognized by the National Book Foundation,” Cottom said at the time of the longlist announcement. “The company that ‘Thick’ finds itself in continues to amaze me.”

Cottom, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Slate and The Atlantic, among others. She also is the author of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy” and in January was ranked among the 200 scholars in the U.S. who had the biggest influence on educational practice and policy over the past year. Author Rebecca Traister said Cottom “is among America’s most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism.”

The books and authors named as finalists:

Sarah M. Broom, “The Yellow House,” Grove Press

Tressie McMillan Cottom, “Thick: And Other Essays,” The New Press

Carolyn Forché, “What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance,” Penguin Press

David Treuer, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present,” Riverhead Books

Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, “Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades in Solitary Confinement, My Story of Transformation and Hope,” Grove Press


This story was originally published by VCU News.

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