Citizen is a personal, emotional, poetic account of being black in America. Some of it is told in snippets, as the experiences themselves are snippets — a comment at Starbucks, a shove on the subway. There are longer pieces, too, like her essay about Serena Williams, which blew my mind. The specificity and introspection of this book made for one of the most powerful reading experiences I've had. Recommended By Britt A., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a persons ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
"Accounts of racially charged interactions, insidious and flagrant, transpiring in private and in the public eye, distill the immediate emotional intensity of individual experience with tremendous precision while allowing ambiguity, ambivalence, contradiction, and exhaustion to remain in all their fraught complexity....Once again Rankine inspires sympathy and outrage, but most of all a will to take a deep look at ourselves and our society." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A prism of personal perspectives illuminates [Rankine's] meditations on race....Powerful." Kirkus Reviews
"Claudia Rankine's Citizen comes at you like doom. It's the best note in the wrong song that is America. Its various realities—'mistaken' identity, social racism, the whole fabric of urban and suburban life—are almost too much to bear, but you bear them, because it's the truth. Citizen is Rankine's Spoon River Anthology, an epic as large and frightening and beautiful as the country and various emotional states that produced it." Hilton Als
About the Author
Claudia Rankine is the author of four previous books, including Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. She currently is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Pomona College.