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Overview

From the bestselling author of Caucasia, 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 ...

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You Are Free

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Overview

From the bestselling author of Caucasia, 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.

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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)
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594485077
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 964,579
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Danzy Senna
Danzy Senna's first novel, Caucasia, won the Stephen Crane Award for Best New Fiction and the ALA's Alex Award, was a finalist for the IMPAC Award, and was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Senna is also the author of Symptomatic and the memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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