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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.
- ISBN-13: 9781594487095
- ISBN-10: 159448709X
- Publisher: Riverhead Books
- Publish Date: August 2017
- Page Count: 240
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds
Love and poetry
One might question some of her choices, but no one could accuse Maria Pierce, the protagonist of New People, Danzy Senna’s provocative new novel, of ordinariness. Perhaps that’s no surprise, given that she—like her equally light-skinned, dreadlocked fiancé, Khalil, whom she met at Stanford in the early 1990s—is biracial. They are two of society’s “New People,” children born to mixed-race couples in the late ’60s and early ’70s, offspring she calls “the progeny of the Renaissance of Interracial Unions.”
It’s November 1996. Maria and Khalil, subjects of a documentary about biracial children, live in Brooklyn as she works on a dissertation about the Jonestown massacre. She’s the sort of well-meaning person who speaks in broken English when talking to someone with a foreign accent. And she is the adopted daughter of a Cambridge, Massachusetts, woman who—like a poet Maria has recently become infatuated with—was “old-school” black, with dark skin rather than the “octoroon-gray eyes or butterscotch skin” of New People.
The poet, a “shaved-head black man,” and Maria’s infatuation with him are the sparks for much of the novel’s drama. Her obsession is so intense that she tracks down the poet at his apartment building. But before Maria can knock on his door, his confused white neighbor mistakes her for her Spanish nanny. Maria’s willingness to go along with the charade of being the baby’s nurse, even to the point of adopting a Spanish accent, is one of many ways Senna dramatizes Maria’s uncertainty and despair over the direction of her life.
Expertly plotted and full of dark humor, New People is a thoughtful and unforgettable look at race and class at the dawn of the 21st century.