From the bestselling author of Caucasia and New People, riveting, unexpected stories about identity under the influence of appearances, attachments, and longing.
Each of these eight remarkable stories by Danzy Senna tightrope-walks tantalizingly, sometimes frighteningly, between defined states: life with and without mates and children, the familiar if constraining reference points provided by race, class, and gender. Tensions arise between a biracial couple when their son is admitted to the private school where they'd applied on a lark. A new mother hosts an old friend, still single, and discovers how each of them pities-and envies- the other. A young woman responds to an adoptee in search of her birth mother, knowing it is not she.
Senna (Caucasia) moves into short fiction with a mixed bag of eight stories dealing with race, identity, and motherhood. Though the protagonists are largely defined by race and gender, the issues they grapple with are diverse: an inner conflict over whether to send a child to private or public school; a lonely woman's decision to be cruel to a stray dog; the emotional fallout from a neighbor's divorce. One of her longest stories, "The Care of the Self," is also one of the most memorable. It begins with the reunion of two close friends whose lives have taken radically different paths. Livy always played the comically tragic single sidekick to Ramona, whose life was the picture of connubial bliss. Now in seemingly opposite positions, with Ramona divorced and Livy a happily married mother, it becomes increasingly obvious that the image people project of their lives is not always accurate. This collection plays to Senna's strength at portraying mixed-race identity with subtlety and grace. Though the pathos and poignancy sometimes strains credibility, Senna excels at conveying emotion with a powerful restraint.
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Really interesting characters, especially considering the brevity of the short stories... A very compelling read for anyone interested in gender roles, marriage dynamics, racial identity and the human condition