New book for ‘Go the F**k to Sleep’s Adam Mansbach

After a bestselling book about the frustrations of getting kids to go to bed, the erudite father of a 6-year old turns his attention to food.

The new book from Berkeley author Adam Mansbach, due out on Nov. 12, homes in on parents' frustration with their offspring's picky eating habits. Photo:
A new book from Berkeley author Adam Mansbach, due out on Nov. 12, homes in on the frustrations caused by picky eaters. Photo: Akashic Books

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.

A page from You Have to F***ing Eat by Adam Mansbach with illustrations by Owen Brozman, due out on Nov. 12. Click on image to enlarge it
A page from You Have to F***ing Eat by Adam Mansbach with illustrations by Owen Brozman, due out on Nov. 12. Click on image to enlarge it

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 BackThe 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.

Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas is organized by Berkeleyside, and takes place in downtown Berkeley on Oct. 24-25. For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.berkeleyideas.com

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.