New People by Danzy Senna [in Library Journal]
Danzy Senna (Caucasia), the child of a Caucasian poet mother and an African American scholar father, uses her lauded writing to examine (at times, perhaps even exorcise) her mixed-race heritage in novels, short stories, and memoir. She bestows her own middle name, Maria, to her newest mixed-race protagonist, one half of an engaged couple who share the same favorite song, films, novel, even “skin…the same shade of beige.”
Having met at Stanford, Khalil and Maria now live in Brooklyn, he creating a start-up, she finishing her dissertation. Their imagined future includes “a tribe of children … a big hairy dog named Thurgood.” They’re the focus of a documentary, the titular New People; they joke about being “like a Woody Allen movie, with melanin.” Despite the outward perfection, Maria’s commitment is wavering as her obsession for a nameless “poet” manifests into stalking, stealing, breaking and entering – even baby-sitting.
Kristen Ariza narrates Senna’s complex, brilliant, post-racial takedown with fluid ease, convincingly even-keeled despite Maria’s antics – from the insidious (a prank call threatening lynching) to the pitiful (running out on Scientology).
Verdict: Libraries should provide Senna’s sly, provoking, dazzling latest in all formats.
Review: modified from “Audio,” Library Journal, February 1, 2018