Imani Perry

21 Oct 2019


Imani Perry, 2019 Pew Fellow.

“The thread of connection between the emotion, the intellect, and the imagination compels me. In that triangle is something that is fundamentally human.”

Imani Perry crafts her nonfiction books, essays, and other writings in the African American literary tradition, drawing on various fields of scholarship such as law, social sciences, music, and cultural studies. Examining the history and contemporary experiences of being black in America, her work stems from, she says, “a profound sense of place and circumstance.” Perry’s 2018 book Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, a biography of the playwright, won numerous awards, including the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction. Her most recent book, Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, was praised by The New York Times as “an elixir of history, ancestry, and compassion, which, together, become instruction.” Perry is the author of six books, and her essays and articles have been featured in The Guardian, Lapham’s Quarterly, Harpers, and other major publications. She is the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and a faculty associate in Princeton’s Program in Law and Public Affairs and Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Perry holds a PhD in the history of American civilization from Harvard University and an LLM from Georgetown Law.