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Summary

Claudia Rankine's bold new audiobook recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in 21st-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV - everywhere, all the time. The cumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship.

©2014 Claudia Rankine (P)2015 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Combining poetry, essay, and images from media and contemporary art, Rankine's poetics capture the urgency of her subject matter." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about Citizen

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Citizen - very thoughtful

loved it but could help but feel sad that people still behave this way and there is no indication that things will be different for my children.

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Citizen an American Lyric

Already ready to read it again 10/10. I would highly recommend this book about race.

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absolutely amazing.

Rankine has a way with words. a way to make sense of the world we live in as people of colour. an eloquent portrayal of life.

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Clear perspective of how black people are treated!

Took me to get in touch with my feelings buried deep inside.
Where I never seen double standards it is now clear that there are. this is a rollercoster of emotions.
The poem related to Serena Williams 2as the one I loved the most, and how she managed to pull it off by being the best she can be, taking no crap from no one.

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  • Steve M
  • 30-08-17

Important Work But Audio Is Missing a Lot

Citizen is an important work, sadly more relevant with every passing day. The audio book is well produced and the reader is exceptionally skilled.

However, Rankine's book includes photos and art work that are not mere illustrations but integral parts of the whole. The same is true of the layout of the book with lots of blank pages and empty space. (To give the reader time to rest and absorb, Rankine has stated.)

For these reasons, the audio book should be considered a companion to the print edition, not a substitute for it.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Shannon
  • 05-10-16

So. Important.

Listening to this made me angry and uncomfortable, perhaps because, as a white person, it's easy for me to elect to see or acknowledge racism, and this book puts you (literally by use of the second person) at the center of it, as the victim, the witness, the occasional perpetrator. You can't ignore it. To make the reader feel even a fraction of what people of color feel on a daily basis is such a huge accomplishment. Beautiful work.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Vinny O
  • 29-06-15

Powerfully moving all round.

Reading poetry is often a private experience, the voice we hear is our own; but Johnson nails it. Her performance conveys Rankine's subtle use of language and powerful cultural critique. I loved the section on Serena Williams which made me want to scream, laugh and cry all at once.

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  • NJB ATL
  • 05-11-18

Robotic Voice, but a good book.

Narrator's voice sounded robotic. I found myself tuning out because of the robotic voice. I might have to get a hard copy and read it myself.

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  • Ijeoma
  • 19-12-17

A Wonderful Book

Frankly, I don't see this as poetry but it's still a wonderful book. Highly recommended.

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  • Mark
  • 19-12-16

Just getting along shouldn't be an ambition

This epic poem often had me leaning forward to find out what would happen next, even when — especially when — Rankine is narrating a tennis match she’s watching on TV. The general “poetic” parts about feelings/sensings were not particularly compelling but they acted as a respite from the racial parts, which fill you with rage. “because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.” And “Hold up, did you just hear, did you just say, did you just see, did you just do that? Then the voice in your head silently tells you to take your foot off your throat because just getting along shouldn’t be an ambition.” Grade: A

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  • KC
  • 19-11-16

Beautiful Tragedy

Gorgeous and succinct prose tell the story we already knew but never hear. It is heartbreakingly strong. the only difficulty a reader or listener will encounter is their discomfort with themselves or the world around them. We should be uncomfortable more often.

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  • smallcricket
  • 30-09-21

look in the mirror

if you look in the mirror and ask “how can i help?” then this is for you. because it is not the help we need but the observation of truth. the truth we live with every single day. you are the reason for this book.

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  • S. Hicks-Bartlett
  • 29-04-21

Perfection

Excellent narrator, clear, emotional and balanced. The author does not waste a single word. Less, really is more here. Perfection at every level.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-12-20

in my top five worst books list

The only people who will like this book are college students whose teachers are telling them to like this book, and are so indoctrinated that they can't think for themselves.