WINNER OF THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST COLLECTION 2015
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR POETRY 2015
WINNER OF THE PEN OPEN BOOK AWARD 2015
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR POETRY 2015
‘Everywhere were flashes, a siren sounding and a stretched-out roar. Get on the ground. Get on the ground now. Then I just knew.
‘And you are not the guy and still you fit the description because there is only one guy who is always the guy fitting the description.’
In this moving, critical and fiercely intelligent collection of prose poems, Claudia Rankine examines the experience of race and racism in Western society through sharp vignettes of everyday discrimination and prejudice, and longer meditations on the violence – whether linguistic or physical – which has impacted the lives of Serena Williams, Zinedine Zidane, Mark Duggan and others.
Citizen weaves essays, images and poetry together to form a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in an ostensibly ‘post-race’ society.
Wonderfully capacious and innovative. In her riffs on the demotic, in her layering of incident, Rankine finds a new way of writing about race in America — Nick Laird * New York Review of Books * Citizen feels raw … this documentary-style look at America has catapulted Rankine into the spotlight … She speaks to the vastly different ways racism and injustice are perpetuated across class lines in America today — Smitha Khorana * Guardian * Rankine brilliantly pushes poetry’s forms … one is left with a mix of emotions that linger and wend themselves into the subconscious — Holly Bass * The New York Times * What does it mean to be a black citizen in the US of the early twenty-first century? Claudia Rankine’s brilliant, terse and parabolic prose poems have a shock value rarely found in poetry. These tales of everyday life – whether the narrator’s or the lives of young black men like Trayvon Martin and James Craig Anderson – dwell on the most normal exteriors and the most ordinary of daily situations so as to expose what is really there: a racism so guarded and carefully masked as to make it all the more insidious … Citizen is an unforgettable book — Marjorie Perloff An especially vital book for this moment in time … The realization at the end of this book sits heavily upon the heart: “This is how you are a citizen,” Rankine writes. “Come on. Let it go. Move on.” As Rankine’s brilliant, disabusing work, always aware of its ironies, reminds us, “moving on” is not synonymous with “leaving behind” — Dan Chiasson * New Yorker *
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