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You Are Free
     

You Are Free

3.6 5
by Danzy Senna
 

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From the bestselling author of Caucasia, riveting, unexpected stories about identity under the influence of appearances, attachments, and longing.

Look out for Danzy Senna's latest book, New People, on sale in August!

Each of these eight remarkable stories by Danzy Senna tightrope-walks tantalizingly, sometimes frighteningly, between

Overview

From the bestselling author of Caucasia, riveting, unexpected stories about identity under the influence of appearances, attachments, and longing.

Look out for Danzy Senna's latest book, New People, on sale in August!

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (May)
From the Publisher
“Senna skillfully exposes the cracks in her characters’ domestic lives… Though [her] stories address race, class and gender, they never devolve into simple case studies. Rather, her collection offers nuanced portraits of characters confronting anxieties and prejudices that leave them not as free as they would like to be.” – The New York Times Book Review

“Shocking…Senna reveals things about people that we rarely see in day-to-day life…Severing readers from their entrenched moralities usually takes a lot longer (at least a novel), but Senna does it in a few carefully chosen details.” — The Los Angeles Times

“Unsettling…[Senna] fearlessly but subtly dramatizes a very American discomfort with such issues as race, class, and gender."- Vogue

“Senna’s perceptive stories…show how nothing is black-and-white.”- Vanity Fair

“These…crisply written stories take place in a middle-class world we thought we knew, while revealing the strangeness, distress, and sorrow under its blank surfaces.” – The Village Voice

“Daring…and lyrical.” — Essence

 “Deft, revealing stories [from] a writer for our time… …A fresh, insightful look into being young, smart and biracial in postmillennial America.” —- Kirkus (starred)

“Compelling…Senna’s fluid, assured tales address true-to-life questions and navigate universal conundrums.”- Booklist

 “Superb.” — BookPage

 “Senna trains her gimlet eye on the intersection of race and family life, and the result is a richly nuanced, often funny, always provocative work of art."- Jennifer Egan

“Senna's probing and marvelous stories delve into the deepest layers of the human heart and psyche, all while showing us a multi-colored, multi-flavored, and most importantly multi-layered world to which we all—lovers, mothers, nomads, strangers—could easily belong.” - Edwidge Danticat

"Dispatches from a glorious and terrifying dimension: motherhood. Senna has written about shifting identities before, but this time it’s the divide between being childless and bearing children that makes her imagination crackle…It’s one hell of a book.”- Victor LaValle

"Danzy Senna's stories are beautiful examples of deceptive simplicity, which of course isn't simplicity at all. The tales are seductive, lucid dispatches from contemporary life, but the undercurrents are electric and strange, and go on working changes on you after the book is closed." - Jonathan Lethem

"Searingly smart and profoundly satisfying ... These women and men are palpable and so well wrought that one loses the sense that one is reading a book." - Richard Bausch

Library Journal
Senna (Caucasia) continues her exploration of mixed-race America in this collection. In "There, There," the narrator is reworking her second novel, trying to find something redemptive in the work her editor called too dark and depressing. This pretty well defines Senna's task in these stories, looking for redemption in fairly bleak lives with varying degrees of success. All the stories are written in the first person and have mixed-race female narrators, many of whom struggle with mixed-race men. In "Admission," a successful young artistic couple visit an exclusive preschool as research for the play the wife is writing and then find themselves hounded by the admissions officer, who can't believe they've turned the school down. In the title story, a woman is contacted by another believing to be the daughter she gave up for adoption and wonders if it's possible the appendectomy she remembers from her childhood was actually something else. VERDICT Almost requiring discussion, the stories would work well for book clubs. If you like your fiction with a bit of a challenge, this collection is for you.—Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll. Lib.
Polly Rosenwaike
Though Senna's stories address race, class and gender, they never devolve into simple case studies. Rather, her collection offers nuanced portraits of characters confronting anxieties and prejudices that leave them not as free as they would like to be.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594485077
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
562,259
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Danzy Senna's first novel, the bestselling Caucasia, won the Stephen Crane Award for Best New Fiction and the American Library Association's Alex Award, was a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. A recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, Senna is also the author of the memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night?, and the novels Symptomatic andNew People. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist Percival Everett, and their sons.

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