20th century

Symptomatic by Danzy Senna

“Every day in this new city I was trying to live in the purity of the present, free from context. Contexts, I knew, were dangerous: Once you put them into the picture, they took over.” As with her latest novel New People, Symptomatic presents its readers with a claustrophobic and disquieting narrative that becomes increasingly […]

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Quicksand by Nella Larsen

“As the days multiplied, her need of something, something vaguely familiar, but which she could not put a name to and hold for definite examination, became almost intolerable.” Similarly to Passing, Quicksand is a study of ambivalence. But whereas Passing centered on the complex dynamic—which ranges from enmity to a kinship of sorts—between two light-skinned […]

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New People by Danzy Senna

“When she was just a kid, Gloria told her never to trust a group of happy, smiling multiracial people. Never trust races when they get along, she said. If you see different races of people just standing around, smiling at one another, run for the hills, kid. Take cover. They’ll break your heart.” A disquieting […]

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A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

“That summer when I so desperately tried to reel us all in, I didn’t understand the forces spinning us apart.” The opening of A Crooked Tree is certainly chilling. Libby, our fifteen-year old narrator, is in the car with her siblings. When their squabbling gets too much their mother dumps twelve-year old Ellen on the […]

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