Morgan Jerkins (born 1992) is an American writer and editor. Her debut book, This Will Be My Undoing (2018), a collection of nonfiction essays, was a New York Times bestseller. Her second book, Wandering in Strange Lands, was released in August 2020. She is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University.
|Education||Princeton University (BA), Bennington College (MFA)|
|Subject||Race, society, African American history, culture|
|Notable works||This Will Be My Undoing (2018)|
|Relatives||Fred Jerkins III (uncle), Rodney Jerkins (uncle)|
Early life and educationEdit
Jerkins was raised by her mother and grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in New Jersey. She has an older sister, and is the niece of music producers Fred Jerkins III and Rodney Jerkins. She has Creole ancestry. She began writing at the age of 14 as an outlet for her experiences with bullying in school.
Jerkins received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University. She planned to move to New York after graduation, but had difficulty finding a job in the publishing industry despite her degree in comparative literature, for which she said she learned five languages. She attended the Bennington Writing Seminars for her MFA.
Jerkins' first book This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America was published on January 30, 2018 by Perennial/HarperCollins. The book is a nonfiction collection of essays including topics such as experiencing bullying as a child, feminism, dating, and attending Princeton as a Black student. The cover was inspired by one of the covers for Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.
The book received mainly positive critical reception. Ilana Masad wrote in a review for the Los Angeles Times, "there is a brutal honesty Jerkins brings to the experiences of black girls and women that is vital for us to understand as we strive toward equality, toward believing women’s voices and experiences, and toward repairing the broken systems that have long defined our country." Roxane Gay stated in Elle, "This Will Be My Undoing is not a perfect book—there are places where I wanted her to push her conclusions further—but the prose resonates with the promise of a talented writer coming into her own." In a less positive review, Khanya Khandlo Mtshali wrote in Los Angeles Times Book Review, "Morgan Jerkins is an industrious writer whose success is undoubtedly a product of her work ethic and determination. But This Will Be My Undoing falls into the tradition of art that upholds an easy and showy moralism." The book received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was a New York Times bestseller.
Her second book, Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots was published in August 2020 under HarperCollins. It is a memoir of Jerkins' journey through several Southern states to answer long-held questions about her family's history. Kirkus Reviews described it as a "revelatory exploration of the meaning of blackness."
Jerkins publishes nonfiction essays and is an editor. She was a senior editor for Zora, a culture website for women of color published by Medium. In January 2020, Jerkins led the assembly of The Zora Canon, a list of 100 great works by Black women writers. The list includes books published pre-Emancipation such as Our Nig (1859), up to those released in 2019. She left the position in February 2021, and was named senior culture editor of The Undefeated in March 2021.
- "The Nerve: In This Will Be My Undoing, Debut Author Morgan Jerkins Isn't Afraid to Go There". The Glow Up (in American English). Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "About ZORA". About ZORA. Retrieved 2020-11-04.
- WANDERING IN STRANGE LANDS | Kirkus Reviews.
- "Review: Morgan Jerkins 'This Will Be My Undoing' is a vital essay collection for the current political moment". Los Angeles Times (in American English). 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- Bryant, Taylor. "Morgan Jerkins On Feeling Validated, The Women's March & Intersectional Feminism". Nylon. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- Saiba, Samhitha (2019-10-11). ""Check your circle": A Conversation with Morgan Jerkins". The Adroit Journal (in American English). Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "Morgan Jerkins: How Brandy's 'Never Say Never' Changed Everything for My Musical Family Billboard". Billboard. 2018-05-30. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- Blay, Zeba (28 July 2020). "Morgan Jerkins On Her New Book, Writing Through Fear, And The Power Of Black Memory". Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
- "Morgan Jerkins Is Putting In the Work". Electric Literature (in American English). 2018-02-12. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- Bense, Kiley (2018-07-19). "The Word Process: An Interview with Morgan Jerkins". Columbia Journal (in American English). Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- THIS WILL BE MY UNDOING | Kirkus Reviews.
- "Book Marks reviews of This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins". Book Marks (in American English). Retrieved 2020-11-04.
- Gay, Roxane (2018-01-31). "Morgan Jerkins' New Book Explores Being a Black Woman in America". ELLE (in American English). Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- Mtshali, Khanya Khondlo (24 July 2018). "The Black Girl Looks at Other Black Girls: On "This Will Be My Undoing" by Morgan Jerkins". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "Nonfiction Book Review: Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots by Morgan Jerkins. Harper, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-287304-0". www.publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "5 African American memoirs that belong on your shelf". NBC News. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "Nadxieli Nieto joins Flatiron as editor at large; Morgan Jerkins on social distancing and touch". www.bookforum.com (in American English). Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "The Zora Canon: Essential Books By African American Women". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-05-20.
- "Some news: Today is my last day at @ZORAmag". Twitter. 2021-02-26. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
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- "Bestselling Author Morgan Jerkins Joins The Undefeated as Senior Editor for Culture". ESPN Press Room U.S. (in American English). 2021-03-08. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
- "Announcing Season 4 of the Storybound Podcast". 4 June 2021. Retrieved June 10, 2021.
- Jerkins, Morgan (30 January 2018). This will be my undoing : living at the Intersection of black, female, and feminist in (white) America (First ed.). New York. ISBN 978-0-06-266616-1. OCLC 1021046735.
- JERKINS, MORGAN. (2020). WANDERING IN STRANGE LANDS. [S.l.]: HARPER. ISBN 978-0-06-287304-0. OCLC 1112203774.
- "Caul Baby". HarperCollins. Retrieved January 16, 2021.