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An eloquent, restless, and enlightening memoir by one of the most thought-provoking journalists today about growing up Black and queer in America, reuniting with the past, and coming of age their own way.
One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛṣṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes listeners on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them.
Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms. It looks back in tenderness as well as justified rage, forces us to address where we are now, and, born out of hope, illuminates the possibilities for the future.
“Narrator Desean Terry gives an intimate and emotional performance of this beautiful memoir in essays. Author Hari Ziyad explores the complexities of gender, queerness, and Black childhood…. Terry's tone is soft and gentle, reflecting the person Ziyad has become. His voice sometimes catches in sadness or deepens in anger while capturing every rise and fall of Ziyad's flowing prose. Terry makes it easy to forget it's not Ziyad themself narrating this honest story.” —AudioFile Magazine
“In Black Boy Out of Time, Ziyad reflects on the longterm impacts of assimilating into a more normative society shaped by prison-based ideologies and how it left them with little understanding of who they were. Ziyad notes that Black people are refused access to childhood due to the punitive social conditioning that protects gender and class categories, and asserts that Black childhood can only be reclaimed through prison abolition.” —Black Youth Project
“Although Ziyad writes explicitly as a Black writer with Black readers in mind, this extension of kindness in the place of opprobrium can be applied across cultures. They bring the same righteous energy in their writing about Black experience to the chapters on awakening to a queer identity. In the final sections, it’s heartening to find Ziyad committed to a loving relationship. With eloquence and compassion, the author examines ‘how to manage a serodiscordant relationship’—their fiancé is living with HIV, ‘a widely criminalized disease’—and how ‘to deal with the trauma from past sexual violence that refuses to stop rearing its hideous head from time to time.’ It’s an ongoing project, one that the author tackles with grace and insight via the act of writing…Ziyad successfully extracts the essence of being Black, queer, and full of tenderness.” —Kirkus Reviews