Just Us: An American Conversation: Incisive, brilliant and necessary

Claudia Rankine digs into the dialogue beneath easy language and interrogates reality

 Claudia Rankine: Her new book’s emphasis is on conversation and what happens when white people talk to each other. Photograph: Dominik Bindl/Getty

Claudia Rankine: Her new book’s emphasis is on conversation and what happens when white people talk to each other. Photograph: Dominik Bindl/Getty

With Just Us: An American Conversation, American poet and essayist Claudia Rankine solidifies her position as one of our time’s most incisive, brilliant and necessary intellectuals. We often hear that a book is necessary; but Rankine redefines that term. Just Us is a work that challenges binary thought to such a degree as to break the world (and the reader) open in new ways, allowing space for real, considered transformation. As she asks in the opening poem, “What if what I want from you is new, newly made/ a new sentence in response to all my questions”.

As with her groundbreaking Citizen, Rankine’s latest work blends essays, photographs, poetry, erasures. What should be noted, though, is the shift in focus in her titles: whereas Citizen (2014) and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (2004) were each subtitled “An American Lyric”, Just Us is “An American Conversation”.

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