"A startling and moving celebration of a brutal life transformed by language and love."—Kirkus Books, Starred Review
“A smile isn't a thing that appears on the face in a flash. It's more of a gradual lift that starts from an unseen place. What Watkins does here is courageously chronicle that lift. This is, no doubt, an origin story for the ages.” —Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist
"If I had two wishes, it would be that D. Watkins spend an entire book writing through the terrifying wonder of Black boyness in America, and for every human to read and share this book. I am shaken. Black Boy Smile changed my relationship to writing and me."—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy and winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal
“Black Boy Smile is another important look at growing up. Watkins has shown what courage means despite fear. This is a book all young men should read.”
—Nikki Giovanni, American poet and NAACP Image Award winner
“In Black Boy Smile, D. Watkins is a masterful memoirist. No lie, I could read accounts from his life for eons. He writes with so much style and verve; so much wit, humor, candor; so much cultural acuity and earned wisdom. Watkins miraculous personal story is a universal testimony of survival, love, and hard-won evolution. This book should be required reading for every Black man in America, plus everybody who knows one.”—Mitchell S. Jackson, Pulitzer Prize and Whiting Award winner and author of Survival Math.
"In Black Boy Smile, D. Watkins excavates his past and lays bare his present and future, writing with the kind of deep honesty and vulnerability that take you from the pages of a memoir directly into the writer’s tender heart. . .A powerful, timely meditation on Black masculinity, survival, loss, grief, and love."
—Deesha Philyaw, National Book Award finalist and author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
"A staggering account of Black boyhood in its abounding scope, a gift for so many of us who've grown used to consuming misrepresentations about the men we love most. This is a book that has left nothing out. Each essay is more radically honest than the last, yet painfully obvious, so Black Boy Smile exposes not only the historical and spiritual institutions at the root of those diminished smiles, but the ways in which each of us are complicit in upholding those structures. A compulsive, affecting, beautiful read."
—Wayétu Moore, author of She Would Be King and The Dragons, the Giant, the Women
“D. Watkins has long been one of our most profound memoirists... The scenes are so full of life, the prose so masterful that I was lost in D.'s world. I dare you to read the first chapter and then try to put this book down.”—Baynard Woods, author of Inheritance
On We Speak for Ourselves: "[D. Watkins] is not another elite voice for the voiceless. He is, this book is, an amplifier of low income Black voices who have their own voices and have no problem using them. He dares us to listen.”—Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Anti-Racist
On We Speak for Ourselves: “Watkins’ latest work shows the black community is not a monolith. Even as we may wear the iconic t-shirts of the struggle yet have different thoughts about the issues faced. We are a diverse and proud community, trying to come to grips with who we are; sometimes wearing a mask within our own brother and sisterhood."—April Ryan, author of Under Fire
On We Speak for Ourselves: "Watkins writes with a type of profound love for the Black forgotten that will compel all who read his timely words to never forget the Black people and places so many cultural critics and thought leaders disremember with ease.”—Darnell L. Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire
On The Cook Up: “Amazing storytelling that brings us deep into the reality of East Baltimore. A moving and important piece of contemporary memoir.”—Wes Moore, author of The Work and The Other Wes Moore
On The Cook Up: "An unflinching, raw, coming-of-age account of the personal impact of the drug trade. Simply a must-read.”—DeRay Mckesson, author of On the Other Side of Freedom
On D. Watkins: "That Watkins threaded his way from those corners to the page is rare enough. That he is so committed to pulling this world through with him—enough of it to at least rub our noses in it and make us acknowledge some collective responsibility—is precious."—David Simon, author of The Corner and Creator of HBO's The Wire
On D. Watkins: “Watkins’ latest work shows the black community is not a monolith. Even as we may wear the iconic t-shirts of the struggle yet have different thoughts about the issues faced. We are a diverse and proud community, trying to come to grips with who we are; sometimes wearing a mask within our own brother and sisterhood."—Jada Pinkett Smith, American actress
On The Cook Up: "An important story for both Black and white America, as well as this country’s political leadership, to read, if we’re truly going to tackle the challenges that are facing our communities all across the country.”—Chuck Todd, correspondent, NBC's Meet the Press