The Way You Make Me Feel: Love in Black and Brown (Hardcover)

The Way You Make Me Feel: Love in Black and Brown By Nina Sharma Cover Image

The Way You Make Me Feel: Love in Black and Brown (Hardcover)

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“Nina Sharma’s thoughtful debut is equal parts memoir, criticism, and long-ranging conversation with a new friend. A love story for the ruminative reader that is generous with both scrutiny and romance.” —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

A hilarious and moving memoir in essays about love and allyship, told through one Asian and Black interracial relationship


When Nina Sharma meets Quincy while hitching a ride to a friend’s Fourth of July barbecue, she spots a favorite book, Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, in the back seat of his cramped car, and senses a sadness from him that’s all too familiar to her. She is immediately intrigued—who is this man? In The Way You Make Me Feel, Sharma chronicles her and Quincy’s love story, and in doing so, examines how their Black and Asian relationship becomes the lens through which she moves through and understands the world.

In a series of sensual and sparkling essays, Sharma reckons with caste, race, colorism, and mental health, moving from her seemingly idyllic suburban childhood through her and Quincy’s early sweeping romance in the so-called postracial Obama years and onward to their marriage. Growing up, she hears her parents talk about the racism they experienced at the hands of white America—and as an adult, she confronts the complexities of American racism and the paradox of her family’s disappointment when she starts dating a Black man. While watching The Walking Dead, Sharma dives into the eerie parallels between the brutal death of Steven Yeun’s character and the murder of Vincent Chin. She examines the trailblazing Mira Nair film Mississippi Masala, revolutionary in its time for depicting a love story between an Indian woman and a Black man on screen, and considers why interracial relationships are so often assumed to include white people. And as she and Quincy decide whether to start a family, they imagine a universe in which Vice President Kamala Harris could possibly be their time-traveling daughter.

Written with a keen critical eye and seamlessly weaving in history, pop culture, and politics, The Way You Make Me Feel reaffirms the idea that allyship is an act of true love.
Nina Sharma’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Electric Literature, Longreads, and The Margins. A graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University, she served as the programs director at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches at Columbia and Barnard College. She is a proud cofounder of the all–South Asian women’s improv group Not Your Biwi.
Product Details ISBN: 9780593492826
ISBN-10: 059349282X
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English
“In 16 bold, rich essays, Sharma unfurls the chronicle of her love affair with a Black man named Quincy . . . Sharma adds color and nuance to her essays by braiding TV reviews with cultural commentary and memoir . . . But in the main, this is a book about love. Sharma shows us that she’s got range, moving seamlessly from a discussion about racism on a national scale to making out with Quincy . . . Readers will appreciate Sharma’s diaristic recounting of their lovers’ spats and her reflections on the central tension in their relationship: that in the American caste system, a Black man and Indian woman simply do not fit any accepted narrative. With writing that is at once humorous and profound, The Way You Make Me Feel confronts the paradoxical realities of race and the family, and calls for greater solidarity by way of love.” BookPage

“Sensual, sharp, and raw, Sharma’s memoir digs deep into the roots intertwining anti-Black racism and America’s South Asian diaspora, unearthing what often remains unsaid when establishing true allyship . . .  Through the lens of being in an interracial relationship, Sharma cleverly draws on pop culture, political discourse, and academic writing to deliver social criticism that persistently highlights the racial discrimination running beneath the surface of American policies and social conventions. Just as impressive as Sharma's composed, polished, and wholly sincere writing is her range of topics, including mental health, the model minority, police brutality, familial trauma, and COVID-19’s anti-East Asian racism—the breadth of all of which illustrates the complex racial fabric of America today.” Booklist

“A powerfully forthright portrait of an interracial relationship that doubles as an insightful investigation into the history of racism in America.” —Publishers Weekly

“Nina Sharma is an ardent, fiercely intelligent explorer of American life in all its hybrid complexity. Indian American and African American worlds collide and collaborate; so do love and anger, art and politics, fear and ambition, grief and wit. ‘Collection’ is too temperate a word for these essays: each is an act in a suspenseful, still-unfolding play.” —Margo Jefferson, author of Constructing a Nervous System

“Nina Sharma’s thoughtful debut is equal parts memoir, criticism, and long-ranging conversation with a new friend. A love story for the ruminative reader that is generous with both scrutiny and romance.” —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

“I put off writing a blurb for this delicious book because I could not bear the idea of its author’s voice no longer accompanying me through my days. Nina Sharma has done something extraordinary with The Way You Make Me Feel—even unprecedented. This is more than a memoir. It is a modern story of life in the diaspora captured through the lens of an unsettlingly brave and honest sage, a woman of tremendous insight and gifted with the keenest of literary chops. It is utterly absorbing, intelligent, disturbing (in the finest way), and musical. Sharma’s narrative sensibility moves seamlessly and profoundly between the personal and political. As a reader, I learned things and I felt things. But at bottom, this is a for real love story—love of community, of color, of the other, and most of all, love of self.” Emily Bernard, author of Black is the Body

“In a world that seeks to divide, Nina Sharma’s charming and insightful essays show us how love humbles, connects, and inspires us to be better allies. By deftly weaving in pop culture, politics, and history into her personal narrative, she explores the ways in which we are taught to inhabit our identities—and how love so often requires us to unlearn these rigid norms.” —Prachi Gupta, author of They Called Us Exceptional

“Nina Sharma’s The Way You Make Me Feel is a delicate balance of memoir, cultural criticism, and history. It moves seamlessly between love story and the interrogation of race, making insightful, brilliant connections. Sometimes funny, sometimes haunting, Sharma’s work is powerful: days later, I’m still thinking about her essay on The Walking Dead and the murder of Vincent Chin.” —Jaquira Díaz, author of Ordinary Girls

“Nina Sharma has pulled off a bold feat: a collection of highly crafted essays that ring with improvisational verve. In fearless prose that manages to be witty, incisive, and nakedly honest all at once, Sharma shares scenes from her Black and brown marriage that reveal a great love story enduring alongside the paradoxes of race. Deftly intercutting personal tales with cultural critique, Sharma holds many to task: ‘the big baddie’ of whiteness, society, her family, and above all, herself. The way this book makes me feel is compassionate and in awe, and a whole lot smarter.” —Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According To Fannie Davis

The Way You Make Me Feel crackles with electricity only found in deep hybridity. This memoir chronicles a brown person coming of age in a racist United States and illustrates for us how allyship can fruit into a complicated, sweet accompliceship. A love story to South Asian and Black communities, Sharma’s debut is a must-read for those of us who depend on one another to survive America. Told through fragment and recurrence, personal narrative and love story, reading The Way You Make Me Feel makes me want to break out into song, I never felt so in love before.” Rajiv Mohabir, author of Antiman and Whale Aria