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Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?
     

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

by Kathleen Collins
 

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“From the first page you know you're in the hands of an exceptional writer… I adored this book.” —Zadie Smith

“Sexy and radical and intimate.” —Miranda July

Named a Best Book of 2016 by VICE, Elle, Nylon, and Publishers Weekly

Named one of the most anticipated books

Overview

“From the first page you know you're in the hands of an exceptional writer… I adored this book.” —Zadie Smith

“Sexy and radical and intimate.” —Miranda July

Named a Best Book of 2016 by VICE, Elle, Nylon, and Publishers Weekly

Named one of the most anticipated books of the fall by the Huffington Post, New York, The Boston Globe, Lit Hub, and The Millions

Now available in Ecco’s Art of the Story series: a never-before-published collection of stories from a brilliant yet little known African American artist and filmmaker—a contemporary of revered writers including Toni Cade Bambara, Laurie Colwin, Ann Beattie, Amy Hempel, and Grace Paley—whose prescient work has recently resurfaced to wide acclaim.

Humorous, poignant, perceptive, and full of grace, Kathleen Collins’s stories masterfully blend the quotidian and the profound in a personal, intimate way, exploring deep, far-reaching issues—race, gender, family, and sexuality—that shape the ordinary moments in our lives.

In “The Uncle,” a young girl who idolizes her handsome uncle and his beautiful wife makes a haunting discovery about their lives. In “Only Once,” a woman reminisces about her charming daredevil of a lover and his ultimate—and final—act of foolishness. Collins’s work seamlessly integrates the African-American experience in her characters’ lives, creating rich, devastatingly familiar, full-bodied men, women, and children who transcend the symbolic, penetrating both the reader’s head and heart.

Both contemporary and timeless, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is a major addition to the literary canon, and is sure to earn Kathleen Collins the widespread recognition she is long overdue.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Morgan Jerkins
There is an impressive balance of candidness and lyricism in these stories, which convey how platonic and romantic love can either sink to the depths of cruelty or soar as high as any imagination can stretch. Collins enriches this exploration by switching among different perspectives—whether it's the first person ("Documentary Style"), a conversation formatted like a script ("When Love Withers All of Life Cries"), the third-person ("Only Once") or the voices of two people reflecting on the same story ("Interiors")—suggesting that no single consciousness has a monopoly on the truth when it comes to something as dizzying as relationships. It is with these different kinds of interiority that Collins shows the vastness of emotion, making a reader aware that nothing ever stays the same, that someone can be here today and gone tomorrow and that memories of relationships past can pulsate with the same amount of force as the present. Collins was a contemporary of Alice Walker and Jamaica Kincaid, and we should make room for her in the literary canon; Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is evidence that this space would be much deserved.
The New York Times - Dwight Garner
The best of these stories are a revelation. Ms. Collins had a gift for illuminating what the critic Albert Murray called the "black intramural class struggle," and two or three of her stories are so sensitive and sharp and political and sexy I suspect they will be widely anthologized. If the bulk of the 16 stories in Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? are less fully realized, they point in directions she might have taken had she lived. They have a talky, crackling quality that keeps them afloat even when they veer toward the pretentious.
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/19/2016
Race, gender, love, and sexuality are portrayed beautifully and humanely in this previously unpublished collection of stories from groundbreaking African-American filmmaker and civil rights activist Collins, who died in 1988 at the age of 46. Drawing on Collins’s career as a filmmaker and playwright, the stories incorporate stage directions, dramatic monologues, and camera-eye perspectives that frame the racial tension of the 1960s with both frankness and tenderness. “Exteriors” details a failing relationship from the outside, set up as a film scene through a lighting designer’s eye, while “Interiors” gives us the inner monologues from the perspectives of the couple in a failed marriage. The title story follows a group of interracial couples as each member explores his/her own identity while trying to fit in with the identity of the other. In the gripping “Only Once,” a woman recalls her thrill-seeking lover and his final act of recklessness. “The Happy Family” seems happy on the surface, but a closer look by the family’s friend reveals the cracks that broke the family apart. Full of candor, humor, and poise, this collection, so long undiscovered, will finally find the readers it deserves. (Dec.)
Miranda July
“Sexy and radical and intimate.”
Leslie Jamison
“Sharp, tender, and precise—full of wit and pleasure. Reading [Collins] feels likes eavesdropping on an electric historical moment from a secret perch just above the kitchen table. I lost myself in these stories with a sense of wrestling and delight, grateful for the crackles and surprises they continually delivered.”
Harper's Magazine
“Fresh and energetic.”
Vogue
“For literary tastemakers, the superb stories in the late filmmaker Kathleen Collins’s Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, published for the first time, feel fiercely of the moment.”
Book Riot
“The writing is practically visceral; straightforward and crisp, leaving you wanting more and thinking about what you just read.”
Shelf Awareness
“These stories fill a gap in the literature, whether or not you knew a gap was there, and they speak to the present like a sharp-eyed worldly aunt who has seen it all before.”
Los Angeles Times
“Collins can work wonders with a single line...[her] voice is so original...The best reason to read this book is simply that it is fantastic: original, provocative, revelatory and bursting with life.”
New Yorker
“A multidimensional revelation... Delves deep into modern history and personal experience to yield, in calm yet prismatic phrases, urgent and deeply affecting insights into her times, which echo disturbingly today... Collins’s style is fine, graceful, and reserved, but pierced with the harsh simplicity of lurking menace.”
Dwight Garner
“The best of these stories are a revelation. Ms. Collins had a gift for illuminating what the critic Albert Murray called the “black intramural class struggle,” and two or three of her stories are so sensitive and sharp and political and sexy I suspect they will be widely anthologized.”
Huffington Post
“Her tableaux and vignettes take place decades in the past, yet the question of the title story seems more relevant than ever... [A] impressionistic, psychologically observant collection...In poignant, searching scenes and contemplations, readers will be reintroduced to a great and under-appreciated creative talent.”
Village Voice
“[Explores] the brutal battlefield of uneven relationships, the joys and paradoxes of black identity, the eternal struggle between mind and body...This is the magic of Collins’s voice: the firm belief that even the most private of metamorphoses sends out ripple effects far into the real world.”
Bustle
“Each one of these stories will take you somewhere deep and familiar, the kind of writing that makes the world around you fade away.”
Zadie Smith
“From the first page you know you’re in the hands of an exceptional writer... Collins’ stories are passionate and light-footed, angry but also delicate - they move like quicksilver... She’s deliciously funny. She speaks of the many-sided lives of black women with care and intelligence. I adored this book.”
Danzy Senna
“In this slim, devastating collection, Kathleen Collins writes of interracial America like no one before or since. This is a daringly complex vision of both blackness and whiteness by a writer who was utterly ahead of her time.”
Daphne Merkin
Kathleen Collins writes with an immediacy and vividness that is exhilarating to read. She inhabits a landscape that sidesteps political or sexual correctness in favor of emotional truth-telling...Throughout it all there is a brio that is contagious.
Margo Jefferson
“Kathleen Collins has the dramatist’s gift for multiple voices and viewpoints...How well she understands mixed motives, emotions and bloodlines. Histories and legacies at cross-purposes. Elective and compulsive affinities, both intellectual and erotic. How unlucky we were to lose her. And how lucky we are to have these stories.”
Vivian Gornick
“This book is one of the most eloquent statements I have read of what it was like to be black and young and alive in the 1960s. I applaud its publication.”
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
“It is a delightful literary discovery that the creator of the landmark film, ‘Losing Ground,’ also turned her hand to fiction. The stories collected here are witty and revealing, and together constitute an unearthed gem of black women’s fiction.”
Booklist
“Each of Collins’ stories leaves the reader wanting to know more about the characters and their creator, which makes this an intriguing and bittersweet publication of these stories long awaiting the attention they deserve.”
Elle
“Make[s] you ache with the powerfully felt sense of real people who value racial parity and collaboration, the aims of art and the necessity of commerce, fearless conversation and creative isolation…Sensuous and immediate, the 16 slim, elliptical stories are built upon elegantly captured moments…hum[s] with far-seeing energy.”
Marie Claire
“[An] astonishing posthumous collection of stories from an underappreciated author… While these are stories about the African-American experience in the 1960s, their perspective on complex subjects in American makes them as relevant today as they were then.”
New York Times Book Review
“Collins was a contemporary of Alice Walker and Jamaica Kincaid, and we should make room for her in the literary canon; Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is evidence that this space would be much deserved.”
Dallas Morning News
“A powerful collection… Collins’ stories are frank and elegant time capsules from the past that will speak with urgency and beauty to readers of today.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“A posthumous masterpiece...A triumph.”
People
“These vivid stories revisit the tumultuous ‘60s through the lives of black and white people as they connect, break apart and struggle to make sense of their identities. Collins died in 1988, but her modern voice reminds us how little the dilemmas and heartache of interracial America have changed.”
Entertainment Weekly
“The late writer’s newly unearthed work covers race, gender, family, and sexuality in a series of intimate stories gracefully stitched together to explore the African American experience.”
Nylon Magazine
“Collins’ writing is powerful and poignant, and she offers readers an essential look into issues like race, gender, and sexuality.”
In Style
“Fiercely honest and refreshingly candid.”
Wall Street Journal
“The collection offers a stimulating glimpse at a roller-coaster era for civil rights. They take place where activism and love intersect...Collins’s writing has much in common with Grace Paley’s wry vignettes of New York intellectuals. Her voice is sharp and sophisticated but leavened by vulnerability and self-deprecation.”
Katie Roiphe
“These stories offer a sharp, clear, unsentimental vision of race in the sixties, the mingling of politics and desire, the search for place that will be both exotic and familiar to modern readers, richly historical and utterly recognizable.”
Bliss Broyard
“[A] lost treasure... this jewel of a book illuminates big timeless themes of familial ties and self-determination, group affinity and individualism, lovers and the power plays between them in a way that feels completely new.”.
O: the Oprah Magazine
“A posthumous masterpiece...A triumph.”
Slate
“[Collins’] stories are intense meditations on love, heartbreak, youthful ennui, gender, and race...The stories in this collection are often conversational and candid, as though the reader has been invited to have a chat with the narrator...There are shades in the intimacy and urgency of Collins’ writing of Lorraine Hansberry and Zora Neale Hurston...Sharp and lovely...Collins’ work will certainly be canonized now, but what a shame that didn’t happen earlier.”
Margot Jefferson
“How well she understands mixed motives, emotions and bloodlines. Histories and legacies at cross-purposes. Elective and compulsive affinities, both intellectual and erotic. How unlucky we were to lose her. And how lucky we are to have these stories.”
Library Journal
01/01/2017
Never-before-published short stories by writer Collins comprise this new collection. Collins, who died in 1988 at age 46, counted Toni Morrison among her admirers.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-09-26
Published for the first time nearly 30 years after the author's death at age 46, this gorgeous and strikingly intimate short story collection focuses on the lives and loves of black Americans in the 1960s.In “Exteriors,” an unseen narrator directs the lighting for a disintegrating marriage like a scene from a movie set. “Okay, now backlight the two of them asleep in the big double bed,” says the voice. And then later: “take it way down. She looks too anxious and sad.” “Interiors,” the companion story, is a pair of reflective monologues, first the husband (“Sometimes I get the feeling that when I’m dead happiness is gonna rise up out of your soul and wreck havoc on life”), and then the wife (“the first time my husband left me, I took a small cabin in the woods, to enjoy a benevolent solitude”). The title story, wrenching and darkly hilarious, follows a circle of young interracial lovers through 1963, “the year of race-creed-color blindness.” In “The Happy Family,” the family’s friend recounts the quiet tragedy of their slow unraveling; “When Love Withers All of Life Cries” documents the emotional landscape of a romance. A pioneering African-American playwright, filmmaker, and activist best known for her 1982 feature film Losing Ground, Collins has a spectacular sense of dialogue. These are stories where nothing happens and everything happens, stories that are at once sweeping and very, very small. Though most of the pieces span only a few pages, they are frequently overwhelmingly rich—not just in their sharp takes on sex, race, and relationships, but in the power and music of their sentences. Collins’ prose is so precise and hypnotic that no amount of rereading it feels like enough. Astonishing and essential. A gem.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062484154
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/06/2016
Series:
Art of the Story
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
38,169
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Collins, who died in 1988 at age forty-six, was an African-American playwright, writer, filmmaker, director, and educator from Jersey City. She was the first black woman to produce a feature length film.

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