Named a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, VOGUE, TIME MAGAZINE, NPR and THE ROOT
Named A 2017 BEST SUMMER READ BY
Vogue • Elle • Harper's Bazaar • Glamour • Buzzfeed • In Style • Men's Journal • Bustle • Ms. Magazine • Pop Sugar • Newsday • The Millions • Time Out • Bitch • CNN's The Lead • The Fader
"[A] cutting take on race and class...part dark comedy, part surreal morality tale. Disturbing and delicious." -People
"You’ll gulp Senna’s novel in a single sitting—but then mull over it for days.” –Entertainment Weekly
"Everyone should read it." –Vogue
From the bestselling author of Caucasia, a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class and manners in contemporary America.
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows. As fantasy escalates to fixation, it dredges up secrets from the past and threatens to unravel not only Maria's perfect new life but her very persona.
Heartbreaking and darkly comic, New People is a bold and unfettered page-turner that challenges our every assumption about how we define one another, and ourselves.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Set in ’90s hipster Brooklyn, Danzy Senna’s dazzling and darkly funny novel charts the confusion and traumas that can plague individuals with biracial identity. The story starts off with one of the book’s main characters—a mercurial, mixed-race twentysomething grad student—making an abhorrently racist call to her own biracial fiancé. Her extremely unfunny phone prank ignites a slow-simmering dread that makes New People nerve-wracking but almost impossible to put down. Senna masterfully constructs the woke hothouse her characters inhabit, then steadily fills it with shifting truths and complex perceptions. We sense that it’s just a matter of time before their world comes crashing down.
Senna (Caucasia) returns to long-form fiction in a muddled third novel featuring a protagonist in search of her identity. It's 1996 in slowly gentrifying New York, and 27-year-old Maria and her college sweetheart Khalil, both mixed-race, are planning their wedding. They're also the stars of a new documentary called New People about interracial couples. But there's a catch one that grows comically large as the story progresses: Maria's obsessed with a soft-spoken, brown-skinned poet whom she barely knows, but suspects is her soul mate. Her stalking takes on an air of implausibility as she sneaks into his apartment building, impersonates the next door neighbor's nanny, and crawls into his open window while he's not home and those aren't even the worst of her creepy maneuvers. Interspersed with her complaining about the state of her otherwise stable current relationship with Khalil are flashbacks to her disastrous dating life in college before she met and "saved" him from being the "token... cool black guy at the frat party"; discussions about racism and white privilege; remembrances of her adopted mother before she died from breast cancer at 49; and a side plot involving Maria's attempts to finish her dissertation on the mass suicide at Jonestown. Significant themes and issues are touched upon here but unfortunately get lost before fully landing.
The best book I've read in a long time. Great story, thought-provoking. Totally new spin on the culture of race. But the story is not about race.
I'm going to read it again immediately !