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Publisher's Summary

Recommended by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Book Riot, BuzzFeed, Bust, LitHub, The Millions, HelloGiggles, and UrbanDaddy 

“The author you need to read now.” (Chicago Tribune

“To say this collection is transgressive, provocative, and brilliant is simply to tell you the truth.” (Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist

Smart, humorous, and strikingly original essays by one of “America’s most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time.” (Rebecca Traister) 

In these eight piercing explorations on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom - award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed - embraces her venerated role as a purveyor of wit, wisdom, and Black Twitter snark about all that is right and much that is wrong with this thing we call society. 

Ideas and identity fuse effortlessly in this vibrant collection that on bookshelves is just as at home alongside Rebecca Solnit and bell hooks as it is beside Jeff Chang and Janet Mock. It also fills an important void on those very shelves: a modern Black American feminist voice waxing poetic on self and society, serving up a healthy portion of clever prose and southern aphorisms as she covers everything from Saturday Night Live, LinkedIn, and BBQ Becky to sexual violence, infant mortality, and Trump rallies. Thick speaks fearlessly to a range of topics and is far more genre-bending than a typical compendium of personal essays. 

An intrepid intellectual force hailed by the likes of Trevor Noah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Oprah, Tressie McMillan Cottom is “among America’s most bracing thinkers on race, gender, and capitalism of our time” (Rebecca Traister). This stunning debut collection - in all its intersectional glory - mines for meaning in places many of us miss, and reveals precisely how the political, the social, and the personal are almost always one and the same.

©2019 Tressie McMillan Cottom (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"To listen to sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom narrate her prose confirms that no other narrator could do better.... As narrator, Cottom is a divine spinner of tales who knows the right amount of sarcasm to add to certain words. She also knows the right words to express her points and delivers them in such a hypnotic rhythm that one does not want to stop listening." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about Thick

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A different perspective

I did not find this an easy audible experience.As an older white woman I found myself trying to relate my experiences to those of the author.I am still trying to reach a level of understanding for the obstacles faced by women of color and realize it will be an elementary level at best.

49 people found this helpful

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Not too anything-- just right.

In the first essay in this collection, Tressie McMillan Cottom says that a publisher once told her she was "too readable to be academic, too deep to be popular, too country Black to be literary, and too naive to show the rigor of [her] thinking and the complexity of [her] prose." And yet, this is everything I loved about "Thick." Cottom is wickedly intelligent, and yet her prose is down-to-earth and highly readable. Listening to this just after finishing "Backlash" was perfect-- listening to George Yancy was like listening to....well, a philosophy professor. Listening to Tressie Cottom was like listening to a friend who makes you laugh and calls it like she sees it, and who also happens to be a brilliant and incisive intellectual. This has always been my favorite combination-- the way Walt Whitman writes about deeply philosophical issues with common, Anglo-Saxon language. or the way my favorite professor in grad school would blow me away with intellectual discussions about history and culture and then write "Boffo!" in the margins of my paper. Cottom writes about European beauty standards and how they impact Black women, the trap of wanting to be seen as competent, how Black people "know their whites," Black female sexuality and how men wield control over it, why there are no full-time Black female writers in major newspapers (and yet David Brooks can write about deli meat) , and much more. Most importantly, she give voice to issues that Black women understand and experience and that the rest of us should pay attention to. This and "Heavy" are by far my favorite books so far this year.

36 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

There isn’t enough space to comment on what I gained from this book. Honestly, I had never heard of her before. But I’m now a fan. She addresses issues regarding race, gender and economics with an honesty that I enjoy reading. There are a only handful of writers that can cover topics like this. She definitely has the insight. And I’m glad she’s willing to share it.

20 people found this helpful

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Giving voice to the voiceless

I loved this book. The author gives voice to the voiceless while finding her own. It's for all the Black women who struggle with being "too much" for everybody while just being a human being.

17 people found this helpful

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Tangled Earbuds 58

Saw Tressie McMillan Cottom when she was a guest on The Daily Show with Trevor. She is very intelligent and I wanted to read her book. She did an excellent job narrating her book of essays. I would like to read more of whatever she writes.

9 people found this helpful

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Heart and Soul

as a white woman reading this collection of essays at the suggestion of a black male friend, I can't figure out where to start with how wonderfully written and poignant that's book is for all people regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, etc. It shows so clearly some of the places where we keep getting things wrong in this country. Definitely a book in order to digest all that is spoken about.

9 people found this helpful

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As an ethnic other....

I very much enjoyed this listen. This is a smart,smart, woman who is living in the real. Maybe cause she was raised right. LOL I never doubted her honesty throughout, She brings forth topics and a perspective borne of personal experience that resonates with me and gave me more than one moment to stop and reflect. She gave words to some thoughts that had been swirling in my head for a while. Thank you, Tressie McMillan Cottom.

8 people found this helpful

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This is a must read for all.

Searing honesty that is often uncomfortable but it’s what we need now. (One could argue this was needed long ago. Lord knows I would have used this book when I taught a summer Feminist theory class in the late 80s. It’s right up there with Audre Lourde’s Sister Outsider and Identity and Difference or This Bridge Called My Back among others.) This book is important and refreshing. She didn’t write it to make us feel good but that’s not where our growth is going to happen. Get comfortable with discomfort. Work with it. Let it seep into your awareness if not your being. Ultimately we’ll all be better for doing so. Not because it’s her role to ‘teach’ us, but it’s up to us to pry ourselves open and to take in other’s perspectives.

7 people found this helpful

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Thought-provoking, Conversation-starter

These essays, though having the ethos of denser sociological and ethnographic texts, are approachable and ping the intellect. They immediately have purpose and usefulness in conversation with friends and family about race and identity. Thanks for sharing.

5 people found this helpful

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My Opinion

This book was thought provoking and accurate description of life for a black woman in USA.

5 people found this helpful

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  • serentious7
  • 11-26-20

Intellectually engaging and entertaining

I started this book looking forward to it but expecting it solely to be an insight into the American experience.

How wrong could I be!

It was whitty, intellectually engaging and so many of the experiences were wholly recognisable from a UK perspective too.

I laughed aloud frequently ("diversity is a bullshit word for people who stutter when they say Black" and "the artist formally known as a white woman, Rachel Dolezal" had me snorting coffee twice in fifteen minutes), and nodded my head at the commonality of experience and the joy in now having the language to explain it fully to myself.

A wonderful book I wholeheartedly recommend.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Maz
  • 10-03-19

actually mindblowing

Tressie is an incredible mind. Her book has given me language for things I know intuitively, and introduced me to whole new ideas.
I cannot wait to engage with more of her work

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs C
  • 11-26-20

A read that requires your full attention

Very interesting. The depth of analysis means that much of what TMC writes is thought provoking and forces you to consider what your views are on the topics she covers.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ola Agbaimoni
  • 08-26-21

A must read even if you think you’ve heard it all before

This series of essays was so refreshing and enlightening. I thought I’d heard most of the arguments before but Tressie breathes new life into them. Her writing style is engaging and adds to her compelling arguments.

Shame that it will most likely be read by the converted. This should be on the desk of every HR &OD director, every CEO, policy maker, politician and read daily!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Melanie Lowndes
  • 03-17-22

Helpful very intelligent writing

I recommend this book to stmulate your thoughtfulness/clarity/understanding. It was helpful for me to gain clarity on such things as "negging" and to understand the importance of seeking out and listening to the black women's voice.

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  • TJohnson
  • 03-17-22

Good, but very unlikely to ever revisit it

Narration is perfect, she could do this for other books!


First of all, this is not a typical book but a collection.

At the same time I must say that the content makes think, which is a good thing...
I got tired of hearing race and gender terms every other word.

Yes, I know that it is all about it, but still made it boring.

Perhaps it also depends on what heppens in the USA, I may miss part of the context that makes it more appealing

In other words, interesting and good content if the topic grabs your attention, but not the kind of book I would go through a second time.

Again, it makes think about it all, which is probably the best positive of this collection.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-29-22

if world happiness was a giant haystack...

... this lady would immediately find the needle of pain and there'd be a whole lot of blame to be dished out!

I bought the book because of the high rating and was hoping to learn something while guessing I was the demographic that would be in the spotlight! and boy was I not disappointed.

in short, all men are to blame for the state of the world. but don't despair, white women come a close second followed by coloured (but not black folk) in a not-so-distant third... there are others but too many to list here!

this book made me uncomfortable which is the purpose I guess but I couldn't figure out why. at times it felt like hate speech. or it felt like wokeism. or even a heap of gaslighting going on. I don't know

what I do know is education and intelligence don't always go hand in hand. this felt like word soup in places and it made no sense sometimes stitching some over elaborate sentences together, for no decent reason that ended up deflating the argument rather than strengthening it

putting all that aside, there were essays in the book that were worth listening to but I'm the outlier not feeling it like the majority seem to be doing, I'm not part of this echo chamber

I wish she dialed back the rhetoric but maybe the purpose of the book relies on it... this lady has so many chips on her shoulder and there's a whole lot of blaming with very little offered as a solution.

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  • Helen McPherson
  • 09-21-21

Important essays

This was an uncomfortable listen but important to hear. The writing was excellent and the performance compelling. I am going to recommend this to friends and will listen again.

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  • Priscilla Eyles
  • 07-08-21

Funny, Incisive & Resonant Anti-Racist Essays

Loved it, felt like having a brilliant & witty best friend spilling the tea as they say.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-09-21

Black women should be trusted with more research

What a brilliant compilation. i am not ashamed to say I listened to this twice. the chapter on beauty floored me and the clear connection she made to how Black men benefit from Black women buying into the beauty myth was one I had to sit with. And using competence and status as a framework for discussing mysoginoir and the death of Black women in childbirth 👏🏾 Thank you to this author. The ideas were not all new in as much as they were so clearly explained and linked. and that is brilliant.

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