Publication Date: November 14, 2023
|On our shelves now
A beautifully illustrated collection of diverse, remarkable lives inspired by “Overlooked,” the groundbreaking New York Times series that publishes the obituaries of notable people whose deaths went unreported in the paper.
Since its inception in 1851, The New York Times has published thousands of obituaries. There are obits for heads of state, celebrities, scientists, and athletes. There’s even one for the person who invented the sock puppet. But, until recently, only a fraction of the Times’s obits chronicled the lives of women or people of color. The vast majority tell of the lives of men—mostly white men.
Overlooked has sought to rectify this. Started in 2018 as a series in the Obituary section, Overlooked revisits the Times’s 170-year history to celebrate people who were left out. It seeks to rectify past mistakes, establish a new precedent for equitable coverage of lives lost, and refocus society’s lens on who is considered worthy of remembrance.
Throughout the paper’s history, there have been blatant omissions of figures who had achieved a measure of fame in their lifetime—Sylvia Plath, Alan Turing, and Miki Gorman are just a few. There were also surprising absences among noteworthy but lesser-known people like Madhubala, a Bollywood actress whose poetically tragic life was cut short; Marsha P. Johnson, a central figure in the gay liberation movement; and Major Taylor, the first Black man to win a world championship in cycling, in 1899. To carve a name for themselves, these overlooked figures were ambitious and creative, and used their imaginations to invent, innovate, and change the world. Many managed to achieve success in their lifetimes, only to die penniless.
Overlooked is for anyone inspired by stories of women and BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and disabled figures who have innovated, broken rules, and overcome. Featuring stunning photographs, exclusive content about the process of writing obituaries, and contributions by writers such as Veronica Chambers, Jon Pareles, Amanda Hess, and more, this book expands the idea that the lives we memorialize are a reflection of who and what we value as a society—and that the lives we’ve overlooked have the stories most important to tell.
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