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New People

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,472 Ratings  ·  374 Reviews
From the bestselling author of Caucasia, a subversive and engrossing novel of race, class and manners in contemporary America.

As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." T
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by Riverhead Books
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Sylvia She will end up in a psychiatric ward. She will slowly get better because her marriage to Khalil has been obliterated. (Her subconscious was forcing…moreShe will end up in a psychiatric ward. She will slowly get better because her marriage to Khalil has been obliterated. (Her subconscious was forcing her to act out so she could flush this union that was not of her making.) She’s no longer pressured to be the poster child for “ New People”... she can learn to throw away false selves. She will get her doctorate and teach at NYU. She will later write a bestselling memoir and appear regularly on lefty news outlets. She will be a strong survivor like the tiny ancient woman who hid from Jim Jones!(less)

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Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting and ambitious novel about multiracial identity. Maria is a strong protagonist--frustrating, hard to really know, intelligent, strange. The overall tone of the book is moody and wry and meditative. Interesting structure with the heavy use of flashbacks. Feels... incomplete. While Maria is fully drawn, everyone else feels a bit typecast. Definitely worth reading. Just didn't grab ME but overall it's a smart and interesting book.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
New People by Senna Danzy is a 2017 Riverhead Books publication.

Unconventional, a little disturbing, but thought provoking and exceptionally written-

Despite its brevity, this book packs a potent punch, written in a quirky, offbeat prose, that captured my attention and forced me to stay focused.

The novel is, without a doubt, about race. ‘New People’ meaning ‘biracial'. However, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Maria and her fiancé Khalil are both biracial- Maria’s adoptive mother
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was once a PhD student in ethnomusicology, so to find a protagonist with that shared experience was a huge surprise and definitely added a start to my reading of this novel. I loved Maria and her weird obsessions, but she did start making puzzling decisions near the end. I enjoyed the ongoing discussion of identity within biracial realities, and am intrigued/terrified of the music of Jonestown!

Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Kenya (ReviewsMayVary)
Nope. This woman is messy and ridiculous. Bye, gurl. #DNF
Jessica Sullivan
This book was so strange, so compelling and so uncomfortable, I could have read another 200 pages and never grown tired of it.

It's the 1990s and Maria and her fiancé Khalil are, as the documentary they're starring in puts it, "new people." Born in the late 60s to early 70s, new people are "the progeny of the Renaissance of Interracial Unions." As a light-skinned biracial woman, Maria struggles with the challenge of not fitting in with either race.

While a large part of this book is a dry social s
Jennifer Blankfein
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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I really enjoyed New People and was intrigued by who the description, “new people”, referred to. Maria and Khalil are a seemingly happy, engaged couple living in Brooklyn, both light skinned, mixed race. Khalil, a technology consultant, comes from a solid, intact family unit and is close with his parents and sister who is darker skinned than he is. Maria has no relatives; she was adopted by a black woman wh
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received a copy of New People as a Goodreads Giveaway. The writing itself is not bad, in fact, there are moments in the book where I genuinely enjoy her writing. The problems I have are with the story itself, the themes, and the characters. The characters are one dimensional and there is little character building. If the intention was to have a unlikable protagonist, Senna was successful. It seems to me that the author had good intentions in her dealing with various issues of race, however, I ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The narrative of the rudderless twenty-something in New York City takes on new life when there's a real reason for the lack of direction. In NEW PEOPLE Senna introduces us to Maria, who is working hard to create a specific identity for herself as a mixed-race woman. She's created the kind of life she thinks that woman should have and as she comes closer to obtaining all of it, things start to fall apart at the seams.

Chief among these crises are her relationships to men. Her fiance, Khalil, has
Uriel Perez
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not exactly what I was expecting. On the surface it's a simple story of obsession interspersed with bits about the narrator's dissertation on Jonestown and a few shining moments discussing race/class differences. Like other reviewers, the ending had me quite puzzled — the book feels only half finished? I need a smarter person to tie it all together for me.
I usually give three stars to books that I liked just enough. In the case of this book, I'm not happy rating it so low, especially now that I want to read everything else Danzy Senna has written. But I can't think of any other way to express my disappointment that it felt so rushed to its end. An attempt is made to resolve most of the internal conflicts Maria faces, but it's all too hasty and ambiguous to be satisfying. A novel of much longer length could have been written about these characters ...more
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
This has the disjointed feel of Jami Attenberg's All Grown Up, but stronger. (Not better.)

Heads up: the only thing I read before listening to this book on audio was the synopsis on the inside flap at the bookstore. Reading a review now I see it was meant to be in the same satirical vein of the Sellout but it went over my head.

Senna's storytelling is so subtle sometimes I thought I misheard or missed out on key details/segues. Strange timeline jumping between college and present and Maria's rese
Jaclyn Crupi
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the sharpest satire I've read in ages. It reminded me of other excellent racial satires such as Mislaid, Delicious Foods, Welcome to Braggsville and The Sellout. I gulped down the first third of this book only to have it slow down on me in the middle but it came home strong and I loved the weird ending. Senna takes us deep into the weird mind of her ambivalent protagonist Maria and it's a fun and frustrating place to be. I was happy there.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
In his blurb on the back of the book, Marlon James states that “New People” reminds us that “the worst kind of hell is always the one we raise”, and I don’t think I can put it any better. This is a book about identity and obsession, perfection and truth.

Maria and her fiancé Khalil are mixed race, mulatta and mulatto, planning their wedding and ready to embark on their life together as “new people”. By their definition, new people are “the progeny of the Renaissance of Interracial Unions” in late
Jun 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I stepped out of my normal comfort zone here (genre wise) and books like this wish I hadn’t. I couldn’t get into this book from the first chapter but my rule is if I start it I must finish.

Maria, a young girl who is engaged is our speaker and narrator of the story. She’s enthralled with a young poet even though she’s engaged to marry another. The story weaves in and out of her own life and past and the present with her new man and the poet and then her dissertation she is writing on a “cult” of
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Anomaly is one of my favorite words, a term of which I use daily and usually more than once. And yet somehow I haven’t used it to describe any of the novels I’ve reviewed. But hey there’s a first time for everything.

New People is - spoiler alert - an anomaly. Perhaps not the textbook definition, but one all the same. Its summary led me to believe Danzy Senna’s novel was an “engrossing novel of race, class and manners” and while it is certainly that, it’s also more. Much more. Too much more. Whic
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
So new people by Danzy Senna was deeply odd and uncomfortable and I really liked it. It was about a young biracial phd candidate who was in the process of completing her dissertation and ambivalently preparing for her impending wedding to another biracial person in the late 90’s while both running from and seeking something I can’t quite describe. The title is based on the idea that this generation of young biracial people, born in the late sixties and early seventies were “new people” and in th ...more
Shirleen R
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Incomplete review. Draft 2 as of August 24, 2017
New People is a short, magnetic, strange, book. Strange in how Danzy Senna combines a perceptive biracial heroine Maria with opaque motives. Strange in how Senna pairs a lifeless main plot -- Maria has trepidations over whether to marry Khalil, a biracial character -- with a far more compelling side story -- the way music worked as a form of rebellion in the last days of Jim Jones' Jonestown in Guyana. Questions is why pair these two theme
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2017, 20s
"People say children are resilient, Nora says, but it's not true. If kids were so resilient, why would we have a world of broken people out there? Why would we have so many people paying to talk to strangers? Childhood is a series of traumas that build up and make you forget who you really are." 27

I did stay up late to finish this book, racing through it only to be met by a frustratingly ambiguous ending. New People reads as disjointed to me, there are many different storylines and characters at
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A short, offbeat story of multiracial identity and coming of age in 1990's Brooklyn--goofy in parts, but also thought-provoking and touching. Think of it as a descendant of Fran Ross's satirical classic, Oreo, which Senna wrote about in the New Yorker in 2015.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Damn, that was creepy.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
4.5 Wow. What a whirlwind. It read almost like a literary thriller, a page turning story of deception, mixed with compelling questions of identity, race, and life choices. The story is told in third person, but from the perspective of a young woman who is like the antagonist of her own story. I felt like I was watching a train wreck but couldn’t look away, my heart literally pounding at points. It was a quick, rich, thoughtful page-turner that left me wanting to read more from Senza.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm not even sure what that was? Was Maria mentally unstable? Was she looking for an excuse to bust up her engagement? Was the grass supposed to be greener? What could be a great book about race, interracial couples, and society was totally overshadowed by her weird ass single, half-white female obsession. The ending is also super random and left open. I couldn't wait for it to end.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book left me speechless at the end. Also I have never experienced such strong secondhand shame from a book before. Maria!!! What are you doing!!!
I’m in the minority of readers because I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s a beautifully crafted but oh so eerie novel.

I’d recommend the book to those who loved Zadie Smith’s ‘Swing Time.’ Like Smith, Senna is clever, witty, and skilled beyond measure in her craft. Like ‘Swing Time,’ ‘New People’ is a satirical yet insightful novel about Blackness, Black culture, and Black life as told through a cast of absurd mixed-race characters. Both novels should really be read twice. However, whereas ‘Swi
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: race
I’m not sure what to say about this. I finished it in a day so clearly it didn’t bore me but I didn’t love it either. It was creepier than I thought it would be. The commentary on race makes it an interesting and worthwhile read.
Andy Lillich
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this a fast, easy read with a highly relatable plot driving its wry observations on race and sex for young, college-educated women in America as told from its narrator's biracial point of view. I found myself identifying easily with its 27-year-old narrator, Maria, who is on the verge of marrying her college sweetheart, the seemingly "perfect match" who comes complete with a plan for marketing a successful bi-racial future for them as the New People of the title. The pain of having to gi ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Maria and her fiancee Khalil are "new people," biracial young folks whose very existence is supposed to prove that 1990's New York is in a post-racial era. But Maria is questioning whether or not she can become perfect Khalil's perfect post-racial wife when all she can think about is The Poet--a darker-skinned artist in their circle who seems to embody the essence of blackness that Maria finds lacking in herself and Khalil. This leads her to engage in some questionable behavior that puts her fut ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I received a free digital copy of this title from Edelweiss and the publisher.

I remember enjoying Danzy Senna's novel Caucasia in the early 2000s, so when this popped up I downloaded an advance copy. I read it in a day or two - the story takes place in the late nineties, in Brooklyn, where Maria and Khalil, two Stanford gradsare planning their wedding. Maria and Khalil are both black but share a similar light skin tone. The multiculturalism in pop culture in the 70s, 80s, and 90s is described
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ownvoices
Interesting and well written, but just not my thing. The plotline "New York protagonist is formlessly discontented and deals with it by developing an obsession with a person who is not their significant other" will never do it for me. It did have some searing moments of truth, though, most notably:

Maria was privy to what [her mother] liked to call whiteyisms--those comments white people made about black people when they thought they were alone.

THIS IS SO REAL. I have a friend who calls this "whi
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Danzy Senna is an American novelist, born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Her parents, Carl Senna, an Afro-Mexican poet and author, and Fanny Howe, who is Irish-American writer, were also civil rights activists.

She attended Stanford University and received an MFA from the University of California at Irvine. There, she received several creative writing awards.

Her debut novel, Caucasia
More about Danzy Senna

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“She has decided all university campuses are alike- the sense of possibility and stasis. She thinks this too: all graduate students, if you look closely enough, exude the same aura of privilege and poverty.” 3 likes
“When there is a gap—between your face and your race, between the baby and the mother, between your body and yourself—you are expected, everywhere you go, to explain the gap.” 3 likes
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