Kim McLarin at Harvard Book Store


Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me and Has Failed:
Notes from Periracial America

In conversation with MICHAEL P. JEFFRIES


November 14, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes KIM MCLARIN—Professor of Creative Writing and Graduate Program Director of the MFA in Popular Fiction at Emerson College—for a discussion of her new book Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me and Has Failed: Notes from Periracial America. She will be joined in conversation by MICHAEL P. JEFFRIES—author of Black and Queer on Campus.

About Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me and Has Failed

“…come celebrate

with me that everyday

something has tried to kill me

and has failed.”

―from Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me.”

“What does periracial mean? It’s a word I made up while casting about for a way to capture both the chronic nature of structural injustice and inequity of America and my own weariness. A way to label life under that particular tooth in the zipper of interlocking systems of oppression bell hooks called “imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy.” (What a lot to resist. No wonder we’re so tired!) To capture the endless cycle of progress and backlash which has shaped my one small life here in America during the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. To counter the idea―now largely abandoned but innocently believed for most of my adult life by white Americans on both ends of the political spectrum― that America has ever been post-racial. To suggest that I suspect, at this sad rate, we never will be.”―Kim McLarin, on the meaning of Periracial

With accumulated wisdom and sharp-eyed clarity, Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me And Has Failed addresses the joys and hardships of being an older Black woman in contemporary, “periracial” America. Award-winning author Kim McLarin utilizes deeply personal experiences to illuminate the pain and power of aging, Blackness and feminism, in the process capturing the endless cycle of progress and backlash that has long shaped race and gender.

Praise for Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me And Has Failed

"Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me And Has Failed is imbued with the same kind of unapologetic, raw and unflinching honesty as McLarin’s previous work, which makes it a welcome and timely read. McLarin wrangles boldly with topics such as aging and anti-Blackness, and in these essays I feel seen at a time when we—Black women approaching sixty and beyond—feel invisible, and/or seen in the worst possible light.” —Deesha Philyaw, author, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Story Prize, LA Times Book Prize, and finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

“The Black female body in peril, a gun purchased in response to the surge of white nationalism, the loss of racial innocence—the cumulative effect of these and the other essays in this provocative, exquisite collection confirms two things: there are prophets among us whom we ignore at our peril, and the spirit of Baldwin lives on. And for anyone familiar with McLarin’s work, you will find in Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me And Has Failed confirmation of this too: her assessments of America’s social landscape remain as powerful as the love she holds for her family, her friends, and her race.” —Jerald Walker, author, How To Make A Slave and Other Essays, finalist for the National Book Award in Non-Fiction

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Kim McLarin
Kim McLarin

Kim McLarin

Kim McLarin is the author of three critically-acclaimed novels, several essay collections and the bibilomemoir James Baldwin’s Another Country: Bookmarked. Her last essay collection, Womanish, was called “blisteringly honest, funny and vulnerable” by The New York Times, and was excerpted in The Washington Post. Her work has appeared in the New England Review, the Sewanee Review, The Sun Magazine, The Root, Slate, The Washington Post, The New York Times and many other publications. She is a former staff writer for The Associated Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times. She appears regularly on Basic Black, the longest running program on public television focusing on the interests of people of color, produced at WGBH. She holds a BA from Duke University and is a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy. Kim is Professor of Creative Writing and Graduate Program Director of the MFA in Popular Fiction at Emerson College.

Michael P. Jeffries
Michael P. Jeffries

Michael P. Jeffries

Michael P. Jeffries is Dean of Academic Affairs, Class of 1949 Professor in Ethics, and Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and works at the intersection of race, culture, and politics.

Dr. Jeffries is the author of four books. Black and Queer on Campus (NYU Press, 2023) provides an inside look at Black LGBTQ college students and their experiences. Behind the Laughs: Community and Inequality in Comedy (Stanford University Press, 2017) explores the world of professional comedy, where social and professional demands force artists to build strong communities in an industry divided along lines of race, class, and gender. Paint the White House Black: Barack Obama and the Meaning of Race in America (Stanford University Press, 2013) uses Obama's presidency to demonstrate how race relies on other social forces, like gender and class, for its meaning and impact. Thug Life: Race, Gender, and the Meaning of Hip-Hop (University of Chicago Press, 2011) puts the spotlight on hip-hop fans and describes how everyday listeners define hip-hop and use it in their lives.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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