Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments

by Saidiya Hartman


Saidiya Hartman's "Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesom Women, and Queer Radicals," is the Jan/Feb book selection from The Free Black Women’s Library 2021 Reading List.

This book is unlike any social history we've ever read. Hartman mixes deep research with lyrical and compassionate writing. The storytelling ranges from shocking to inspiring. The thick paperback is peppered with tons of archival photos and illustrations and is appended with an extensive citation list. Historical figures like Billie Holiday and Ida B. Wells are included alongside equally poignant imagined women. The book reads kind of like a play, and the setting is Philadelphia and New York City at the end of the 1800s into the early 1900s.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-35762-2
  • 464 pages

Hartman's book provides insight into the inherited trauma of slavery and ongoing racism while illuminating and exalting the legacy of Black womxn living outside of white heteronormativity.

Please consider joining us in supporting The Free Black Women’s Library through Patreon, by volunteering, or donating. You can find their full 2021 reading list by scrolling to the bottom of their page 'TFBWL READING CHALLENGE'. Special thank you to Broccoli Magazine & the Floret board for highlighting this organization in their work.

Saidiya Hartman is the author of Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, and Scenes of Subjection. A MacArthur "Genius" Fellow, she has been a Guggenheim Fellow, Cullman Fellow, and Fulbright Scholar. She is a professor at Columbia University and lives in New York.