UT Press publication on ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ reaches NYT Best Seller’s list

Evan Hearn

For the first time in 41 years, UT has published a New York Times best-selling novel.

“Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest,” a book written by Hanif Abdurraqib and published by UT Press, covers the history of hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest and details the author’s experiences as a black man.

The novel, which is Abdurraqib’s third book, has landed as high as number eight on the New York Times Best Seller list and has sold out of bookstores nationwide, said Gianna LaMorte, assistant director at UT Press.

“Every page is absolutely beautiful,” LaMorte said. “It’s about Tribe, but it’s really about a young man’s coming of age. It connects with people.”

Casey Kittrell, sponsoring editor at UT Press, said he proposed the project to Abdurraqib in early 2017 after being inspired by his coverage of the group in 2016, when Phife Dawg, a founding member of Tribe, passed away. That year, Tribe released a studio album and the group gave an emotional performance on Saturday Night Live. Abdurraqib wrote articles for MTV News covering these events.

“Hanif was someone whose writing I fell in love with,” Kittrell said. “And when I read Hanif’s piece after the record dropped, about what it meant to people, I thought, yeah, there should be a book on Tribe.”

However, Kittrell said he never expected the book to become so popular. UT Press publishes mostly scholarly work. Their last best seller was a manuscript by T.H. White discovered among the Harry Ransom Center’s collections. It was called “The Book of Merlyn,” and was a sequel to the popular novel “The Once and Future King.”

William Morgan, sociology senior and music writer for online magazine Verge Campus Texas, said the book’s success makes sense.

“Tribe is at the roots of hip-hop,” Morgan said. “Specifically, their cultural awareness, their role in the afro-centric movement, their place among conscious rap — they’re very much relevant today.”

UT Press has more publications in the works. Kittrell said “Glitter up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary” by Sasha Geffen, “They Came from the Sky: The Spanish Arrive in Texas” by Stephen Harrigan and a biography of Earl Campbell by Asher Price will all be released later this year.

 

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