2014 National Book Critic's Circle Award for Poetry
An open wound of a book, Citizen is 21st-century required reading. The subtle, almost invisible onslaught "citizens" face every day is split open for inspection. Rankine will hold your hand through it, but she will also hold it to the fire. No matter. It's necessary. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric is a momentous achievement in modern poetry, but also in American culture. To create this portrait of racism and microaggressions in 21st-century life, Rankine employs a prism of subjects, lenses, and perspectives in gorgeous language and innovative poetic style (the book includes visual imagery, prose pieces, and quotes from the media). Citizen is necessary, absorbing, and startling, and it is one of the most important books of poetry in the last decade. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
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.
"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." 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.