Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History

By Danzy Senna
Read by Carrington MacDuffie

6.02 Hours 05/12/2009 unabridged
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When Danzy Senna’s parents got married in 1968, they seemed poised to defy history. A white woman with a blue-blood Bostonian lineage and a black man raised by a struggling single mother, these two beautiful young American writers were boldly challenging long-held racial biases. When their marriage violently disintegrated eight years later, it was all the more heartrending given the hopeful symbolism of their union. Decades later, Senna looks back at her parents’ divorce and their wildly opposing backgrounds and discovers two remarkable American histories. Digging deeper, she reconstructs a long-buried family mystery that illuminates her own childhood, her enigmatic father, the power and failure of her parents’ union, and finally, the forces of history.

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Summary

Summary

When Danzy Senna’s parents got married in 1968, they seemed poised to defy history. A white woman with a blue-blood Bostonian lineage and a black man raised by a struggling single mother, these two beautiful young American writers were boldly challenging long-held racial biases. When their marriage violently disintegrated eight years later, it was all the more heartrending given the hopeful symbolism of their union.

Decades later, Senna looks back at her parents’ divorce and their wildly opposing backgrounds and discovers two remarkable American histories. Digging deeper, she reconstructs a long-buried family mystery that illuminates her own childhood, her enigmatic father, the power and failure of her parents’ union, and finally, the forces of history.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Danzy Senna provides a moving example of how not to place blame but to use the past to illuminate the complexities of the present…Senna’s third work is less a moody j’accuse than a gripping detective story, one in which the author travels from New England to New York to the Deep South, following the trail of her father’s upbringing in a quixotic effort to understand her own…The story of her unhappy family, she realizes, is also the story of a nation, one equally fractured but full of possibility.” NPR
“A haunting, introspective meditation on race and family ties that tackles the tricky questions involved in constructing identity.” Publishers Weekly
“MacDuffie’s tones subtly change as she speaks in Senna’s childlike voice, which matures as events progress in this memoir. MacDuffie’s voice is assertive and compelling as she convincingly reflects Senna’s fervent drive to uncover her extraordinarily complicated family history as the offspring of a Caucasian mother and African American father.” Booklist
“Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History is a completely different exploration of personal identity…wherein the very nature and definition of family are called into question. Ultimately, her search leads to a reframing of identity for four generations, including her infant son, and the exposure of a complex middle ground of meaning, far from black and white.” BookPage
“Senna squarely confronts the issues of race and ethnic identity in American history…Quietly reflective and gorgeously written.” Kirkus Reviews
“[An] interesting memoir…While race and identity provide a backdrop to her story, much of what Senna experienced has been experienced by all children of divorce…Carrington MacDuffie provides a clear, precise narration.” SoundCommentary.com

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Danzy Senna

Danzy Senna grew up in Boston and attended Stanford University. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, where she received several creative writing awards. She is the author of the novels Caucasia and Symptomatic. She lives in New York City.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 6.02
Audience: Adult
Language: English