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Citizen

An American Lyric
Written by: Claudia Rankine
Narrated by: Allyson Johnson
Length: 1 hr and 37 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

What the critics say

"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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  • Steve M
  • 2017-08-30

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Vincent O
  • 2015-06-29

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Shannon
  • 2016-10-05

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • NJB ATL
  • 2018-11-05

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
  • 2017-12-19

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
  • 2016-12-19

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
  • 2016-11-19

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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  • Michelle P. Adamo
  • 2020-05-05

a beautiful and touching book

Oh, this book! Touching and so beautifully written! I listened to Citizen on audio - and read (listened to) it twice. It's amazing what you hear when you really listen. A must read! "Perhaps the most insidious and least understood form of racism is that of the word."

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-01-07

Atlanta Public Radio wasn’t lying

Claudia Rankine’s book is as beautiful and heart-breaking as it is stoic and thought-provoking. Every American woman should listen to this, if not every American in general.

It is poetry and spoken-word and folklore and a glass of wine with a dear friend. Thank you, Ms. Rankine. Please pour me another.

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  • Janet McKeithan-Janifer
  • 2019-06-17

Very insightful. Affirming. Ended too quickly!

Fascinating style and work. I found myself repeatedly saying, "Yes, I have felt and experienced this, too. I just never knew how to articulate it in a comprehensible way!"