Safiya Sinclair’s How to Say Babylon is the latest pick for Jenna Bush Hager’s Today show book club.
The memoir, set for publication next week by Simon & Schuster, tells the story of Sinclair’s youth in Jamaica, the daughter of a strict Rastafarian family. The book is a finalist for this year’s Kirkus Prize in nonfiction; a Kirkus critic wrote, “Sinclair’s gorgeous prose is rife with glimmering details, and the narrative’s ending lands as both inevitable and surprising. More than catharsis; this is memoir as liberation.”
Hager announced the book’s selection on the Today show. “You know I don’t normally choose nonfiction, but this is an incredible memoir,” she said. “It’s about the freedom to be who we’re destined to be, it’s about love, it’s about art. It’s a beautiful mother-daughter love story.…This book will move you, and change and inspire you.”
Sinclair, whose 2016 poetry collection, Cannibal, was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, discussed her memoir with Today.com.
“I always say this book is about a young woman on the precipice of her existence,” she said. “Having to navigate a life and religion that I was raised in, that diminished me.…This book is my journey to forging my own sense of place in the world and learning to celebrate my womanhood as a gift instead of being diminished by it.”
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.