Berkeley author Adam Mansbach is best known for his book Go the F**k to Sleep. Published in 2011, it caused something of a sensation, not least because only the most chilled-out parents contemplated actually reading it to their children as a bedtime story.
A No. 1 New York Times bestseller, and a viral sensation that shot to No. 1 on Amazon months before it was even available, Go the F**k to Sleep has been published in 40 languages and is currently being developed as a film.
L. Samuel Jackson loved the book so much he recorded himself reading it, and the resulting video was also a hit. His rendering was even turned into a song. The actor cheerily admitted he often told his daughter when she was young to “go the f**k to sleep.”
Mansbach has followed up with You Have to F***ing Eat — due out on Nov. 12, illustrated by Owen Brozman — which takes as its subject picky eaters, and is sure to put a knowing smile on many a parent’s face.
Mansbach said people have been clamoring for a sequel and there has been no shortage of suggestions for what it might address. But, he said, he would only do it if it rang true to him –“If I felt like I could imbue it with the same kind of honesty, love, and frustration as the first book,” he said in a press release. “And eating is the other universal source of parental anxiety, a battle of wills just as pitched as sleep can be. From my own experiences and plenty of conversations with other parents, it seemed like a topic folks could use a laugh and a bit of catharsis about.”
Although he is probably best known for his Sleep book, Mansbach has in fact written several other bestselling books — including Rage is Back, The Dead Run, and The End of the Jews — and his cult classic Angry Black White Boy has been taught at more than 80 schools and adapted into a play. Mansbach is also an expert on hip-hop music and edited and published the pioneering 1990s hip hop journal Elementary while he was the 2009-2011 New Voices Professor of Fiction at Rutgers University. He also co-hosts the KPFA/Pacifica radio show “Father Figures.”
Mansbach will be in conversation with writer Jeff Chang, another sharp, funny writer and social observer, at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on Friday Oct. 24 at 3:40 p.m. Chang, the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford, has just released his new book Who We Be: The Colorization of America, a fascinating look at race in the United States. Both Mansbach and Chang started their careers as writers about hip hop, so that should make a very interesting lens for the discussion.