In Caucasia—Danzy Senna’s extraordinary debut novel and national bestseller— Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother. Look out for Danzy Senna’s latest book, New People, on sale in August! Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother, intellectuals. Maya Jaggi on Danzy Senna’s parable of race, From Caucasia, With Love.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Caucasia by Danzy Senna. Caucasia by Danzy Senna. The sisters are so close that they have created a private language, yet to the outside world they can’t be sisters: Birdie appears to be white, while Cole is cajcasia enough to fit in with the other kids at the Afrocentric school they attend.
Seenna Birdie, Cole is the mirror in which she can see her own blackness. Then their parents’ marriage falls apart. Their father’s new black girlfriend won’t even look at Birdie, while their mother gives her life over to the Movement: One night Birdie watches her father and his girlfriend drive away with Cole—they have gone to Brazil, she will later learn, where her father hopes for a racial equality he will never find in the States.
The next morning—in the belief that the Feds are seenna them—Birdie and her mother leave everything behind: Passing as the daughter and wife of a deceased Jewish professor, Birdie and her mother finally make their home in New Hampshire. Desperate to find Cole, yet afraid of betraying her mother and herself to some unknown danger, Birdie must learn to navigate the white world—so that when she sets off in search of her sister, she is ready for what she will find.
At once a dazy coming-of-age story and a groundbreaking work on identity and race in America, ” Caucasia deserves to be read all over” Glamour. Paperbackpages. Published February 1st by Riverhead Books first published February 2nd To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Caucasiaplease sign up. Lists with This Book. May 13, T. The first time I read this book was on a a rainy bus ride in the San Francisco bay area, and I surprised myself czucasia finding myself crying, for it in many ways spoke of my own multiracial experience, albeit in highly fictionalized form.
Danzy Senna ‘s first novel, Caucasia, is a story of traumatic dislocation, disorientation, and confused ethnic identity, set in s and 80s Boston and intermittently in other places. It’s the story of Birdie Lee, her older sister, and her parents–the neurotic, bro The first time I read this book was on a a rainy bus ride in the San Francisco bay area, and I surprised myself by finding myself crying, for it in many ways spoke of my own multiracial experience, albeit in highly dsnzy form.
It’s the story of Birdie Lee, her older sister, and her parents–the neurotic, broken white mother, and danzt proud, embittered academic father. Both parents are torn apart in the dznzy maelstrom of racial tension that divides ‘s Boston.
Senna uses the time backdrop expertly in conveying the tension and the give and take of racial dynamics in America. While some of the storytelling is uneven, particularly in some of the stretches where Birdie and her mother take to the road the commune is one danzzy the weaker stretches, New Hampshire one of the bestI was entranced by a novel that unflinchingly spoke of a yearning, a depression, a central conflict that I could so deeply understand.
The title, that of an imaginary Caucasia that race boxes have depicted, speaks dznzy across the void the Lee danz experiences, and continues throughout the entirety of the novel. A gripping read, that I’d recommend to seenna, and one of my favourite books ever written.
Caucasia by Danzy Senna – Reading Guide – : Books
Oct 21, fletch rated it liked it. From this book came the passage that inspired the amazing Seattle hip hop duo, Canary Sing: Canaries were used by coal miners to gauge how poisonous the air underground was.
They would bring a canary in with them, and if it grew sick and died they knew the air was bad and eventually everyone would be poisoned by the fumes. Likewise, mulattos have historically been the gauge of how poisonous American race relations were. The fate of th From this book came the passage that inspired the amazing Seattle hip hop duo, Canary Sing: The fate of the mulatto in history and literature will manifest the symptoms that will eventually infect the rest of the nation.
We are the first generation of canaries to survive, a little injured perhaps, but alive! Sandy is the daughter of a white New England family steeped in certain WASPish traditions and perspectives, a way she is familiar with, yet wishes to challenge both physically and vociferously.
Deck Lee was one of Sandy’s father’s students,an intellectual, his head full of ideas, his motivation always to pursue them and commit them to paper. The two fall in love, their marriage Sandy’s ultimate rebellious act, Deck is black. But the story isn’t really about these two, the intellectual and the pra Sandy is the daughter of a white New England family steeped in certain WASPish traditions and perspectives, a way she is familiar with, yet wishes to challenge both physically and vociferously.
Caucasia Reader’s Guide
Fanzy the story isn’t really about these two, the intellectual and the caucqsia parent, but their daughters, Birdie and Cole, denna who have traces of their parents and grandparents within them, traces they won’t see until much later. Birdie and Cole are so close, they have their own made up language they speak fluently, that no one else can understand. The rest of society judges them on appearance, for Birdie appears white and her older sister Cole appears to be black. When their parents relationship comes under the strain of their mother’s activism activities that atract the attention of the FBIand their father’s intellectual distance and obsession with pursuing it, the girls are separated, Cole going to Brazil with her father, attracted by her father’s black girlfriend who knows how to deal with her hair, acting on adolescent impulses and Birdie whose lighter skin means she can pass as a white girl, goes on the run with her mother assuming a new identity.
The novel is seen through the eyes of Birdie, growing up as just another daughter of these two parents and yet marked by the colour of her skin. The sisters are close and yet their experiences are different, they will slip in and out of identites swnna to come back to who they always were, a mix of everything that came before and that unique aspect that makes them themsemves.
Cole leaves for Brazil with her father and Birdie is on the run with her white activist mother fleeing the authorities. The story is narrated from the point of view of Birdie and although she feels just like her sister, there were already signs of their differences in the behaviour of those closest to them.
Birdie travels with her mother, losing all contact with her sister and father and integrates into a new life and school as someone she is not, she accepts it, but the truth seethes beneath the surface of all her interactions, she becomes numb cauucasia the misconceptions about who she is, until she has had enough and decides to go looking for Cole and her father.
The less I behaved like myself, the more I could believe that this was still a game. That my real self — Birdie Lee — was safely hidden my beige flesh, and that when the right moment came, I would reveal her, preserved, frozen solid in the moment in which I had left her.
A courageous effort to place the reader in the mind of a character who is like a changeling, crossing racial and geographic boundaries, making choices that will ensure not just her survival, but that she gets the answers she is looking for. A thought provoking debut, with a memorable narrator, in caycasia situation that deserves to be experienced or at least imagined by everyone.
Dec 28, Debbie rated it really liked it. Caucasia was a really good novel. In fact, I had known that it was so intriguing a read, I would have read it sooner. This was a book that has been on the shelves for so long that I actually forgot about it. It may be a book that has been out for so long that many have forgotten about it because I never hear it mentioned in book circles nor have I seen it on anyone’s reading list to remind us of its existence.
I think it would be a great book club or discussion read because it brings up so man Caucasia was a really good novel. I think it would be a great book club or discussion read because it brings up so many points about race in our ever changing yet stagnant society that it leads one into a mode of self assessment.
I started asking myself questions about how I view things, how I have been viewed and what I have observed about the viewing of race. All these things become a topic of discussion because of a story about two girls who are the same, yet different and their adventure in a caucasai that likes to talk about equality but acts with difference.
Sisters Cole aka Colette and Birdie Lee’s parents were a mixed race couple who married caucasai the late sixties.
Their father Deck was a professor and their mother Sandy was a liberal from a well to do Boston family. They were ver active in politics and the Black Power movement.
They both seemed to view their family in the scope caicasia the Revolution. Sandy seemed to constantly want to prove that she was not a part of the racist white upper middle class. She wanted to prove that she was tough, that she got along with everyone regardless of their from her and that she was down for the cause by any means necessary and she wasn’t afraid to put action behind it.
Deck was philosophical about his views on race. He was obsessed with proving his sociological points about race that not only was it his constant subject of conversation but it seemed he viewed his own sennz family as a scientific experiment that he wrote books about. Of the two mixed children, Cole is more brown with curly hair and is unmistakable a black child.
Birdie is more fair skinned with straight hair and could pass. This book deals a lot with how the two were excepted in the world and even by their own parents.
Add on top of these issues the adventure and it makes for very interesting reading. The adventure really begins when their parents political views in cause a reaction that changes all their lives forever. I don’t want to give the story away but it’s monumental and you will be emotionally involved in this book.
Two narcissists in the name of freedom affect two young lives. I’m giving this 4 stars. I definitely recommend reading this: I related to a lot of things a lot and was educated on a point of view for others. I can’t believe no one is talking about this book anymore. It is worth so much dissection.
I would read more by this author. View all 10 comments. Feb 08, barb howe rated it it was amazing. This is a perfect novel. It’s not only a good story with great complicated compelling characters it really tells us a lot about the way race impacts our relationships with one another, and how that changes in time and place.
I’m white and grew up in a small town in the South in the late 70s and 80s and the portrayal of small town white culture in that era is painfully accurate: We were deseg This is a perfect novel. We were desegregated but still worlds apart. It’s changing but so slowly it’s almost imperceptible. Senna’s characters are so well developed, multilayered and complicated but they’re also universal. In my own life’s journey I have met all these characters: