Citizen: An American Lyric (Paperback)
A lot of our reading is for pleasure, whether it be for aesthetic indulgence or indulgent distraction from the workaday of modern life. Sometimes, usually without you expecting, occasionally against your will, a book comes along that defies pleasure -- that makes you feel uncomfortable, with each left-to-right tick of the eyes, and right-to-left tock of the pages -- and becomes necessary. For me (and a growing number daily), Claudia Rankine's prose-poem, Citizen, is such a book. Rankine punctures any illusion we might have or wish to conjure that America is "post-racial." Here she recounts, in verse, prose, and image, the countless micro-aggressions (slips of the white tongue and assumptions of the white mind) that seem so small, but accumulate in various ways, from police conduct to polite society, to stifle black speech and action . . . black lives. Few books on our shelves, I dare say, matter as much as this one today. (Here's a clip of her reading an excerpt.) -- Brad J.— From February 2015
* Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry *
* Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism * Winner of the NAACP Image Award * Winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize * Winner of the PEN Open Book Award *
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
"The New Yorker," "Boston Globe, " "The Atlantic, " "BuzzFeed, " NPR. "Los Angeles Times, "" Publishers Weekly," "Slate, " "Time Out New York," "Vulture," "Refinery 29, " and many more . . .
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 person's 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.
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.
Praise for Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
“Don’t Let Me Be Lonely records or annotates separate discrete episodes of consciousness; these accumulate, in this extraordinary book, into what seems less a sequence than a set of overlapping patterns. In place of smug moral judgments, Rankine contrives a mosaic of intimate vignettes and tense hypotheses; the whole has a complexity and density that makes it, I believe, the most devastating and convincing political poetry written by an American within memory . . . She has made of her savage and stern intelligence, her ruthlessness and her terror, great art. She has made poetry an astonishment again. All of us who write are most profoundly in her debt, as all who read will be in her power.” —Louise Glück, American Poet