Just Us: An American Conversation (Paperback)
September 2020 Indie Next List
“Claudia Rankine continues to break ground and pierce our souls with her latest offering, Just Us. Always creating compelling innovative forms, she seamlessly weaves poetry, memoir, and cultural/racial research and criticism through the deeply personal lens of her cancer and biracial marriage, probing the larger questions of how Black and white Americans can both occupy the same spaces in such disparate circumstances. Just Us is brilliant, moving, deeply human, and honest. Rankine shines brighter with each book.”
— Angela Spring, Duende District, Washington, DC
November 2020 Indie Next List
“Claudia Rankine really steps up the moment with this book. She invites readers to join a conversation that helps us think through uncomfortable parts of American history. The poems, essays, and images in the book allow for a conversation that opens your eyes and enriches your understanding of our time. Readers will be excited to pick up this wildly creative and powerful writing on race, difference, and politics in America.”
— Alyson Turner, Source Booksellers, Detroit, MI
Now in paperback, Claudia Rankine’s “skyscraper in the literature on racism” (Christian Science Monitor)
In Just Us, Claudia Rankine invites us into a necessary conversation about Whiteness in America. What would it take for us to breach the silence, guilt, and violence that arise from addressing Whiteness for what it is? What are the consequences if we keep avoiding this conversation? What might it look like if we step into it? “I learned early that being right pales next to staying in the room,” she writes.
This brilliant assembly of essays, poems, documents, and images disrupts the false comfort of our culture’s liminal and private spaces—the airport, the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth—where neutrality and politeness deflect true engagement in our shared problems. Rankine makes unprecedented art out of the actual voices and rebuttals of others: White men responding to, and with, their White male privilege; a friend clarifying her unexpected behavior at a play; and women on the street expressing the political currency of dyeing their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complement Rankine’s own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word. Funny, vulnerable, and prescient, Just Us is Rankine’s most intimate and urgent book, a crucial call to challenge our vexed reality.
About the Author
Claudia Rankine is the author of Citizen: An American Lyric and four previous books, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Her work has appeared recently in the Guardian, the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times Magazine, and the Washington Post. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, the winner of the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, and a contributing editor of Poets & Writers. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2016. Rankine is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.