Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History by Danzy SennaWhere Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History by Danzy Senna

Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History

byDanzy Senna

Paperback | March 30, 2010

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When Danzy Senna's parents married in 1968, they seemed poised to defy history: two beautiful young American writers from wildly divergent backgrounds--a white woman with a blue-blood Bostonian lineage and a black man, the son of a struggling single mother and an unknown father. When their marriage disintegrated eight years later, the violent, traumatic split felt all the more tragic for the hopeful symbolism it had once borne.

Decades later, Senna looks back not only at her parents' divorce but at the histories that they had tried so hard to overcome. In the tradition of James McBride's The Color of Water, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? is "a stunningly rendered personal heritage that mirrors the complexities of race, class, and ethnicity in the United States" (Booklist).

Danzy Senna is the author of the novels Caucasia and Symptomatic.
Title:Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal HistoryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.29 × 6.43 × 12 inPublished:March 30, 2010Publisher:PicadorLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312429398

ISBN - 13:9780312429393

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Read from the Book

Chapter One In 1975 my mother left my father for the last time. We fled to Guilford, Connecticut. It was a rich town, but we rented an apartment in a tenement that the town's residents referred to only as "the welfare house."The backyard was a heap of dead cars. We lived on the second floor. Below us lived the town's other nonwhite residents, a Korean war brideand her two half-Italian sons. Beside them lived an obese white woman and her teenage son. I don't know if we were officially hiding out from my father there-or if he knew where we were all that time. In my memory it seems that a long time passed before we saw him again, long enough for me to forget him. And I remember the day he reappeared. I was five, and I heard the doorbell ring. I raced in bare feet to see who was there. I saw, at the bottom of thedimly lit stairwell, a man. His face was hidden in the shadows, but I could make out black curls, light brown skin. "Hi, baby,"he called up to me. I stared back. "Don't you know who I am?" I shook my head. "You don't know who I am?" I knew and I didn't know. I had memories of the man at the bottom of the stairwell, both good and bad-but I could not say who he was. I only knew that I had known him, back there in the city, and the sight of him now made me uneasy. My mother emerged behind me in a housedress. I heard a sound in her throat-a gasp or a sigh-when she saw whom I was talking to. "See that?"the man shouted up at her. "See what you've done? She doesn't even know who I am. My own child doesn't recognize me." I began to cry, perhaps recalling now all that we had fled. My mother shushed me. "It's your father,"she said, gathering me into her arms. I turned to watch him come toward us up the stairs. Thirty years later, and he's still asking me that question. "Don't you know who I am?" Excerpted from Where Did You Sleep Last Night? by Danzy Senna.Copyright © 2009 by Danzy Senna.Published in --- 2009 by publisher ---- Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Editorial Reviews

In her courageous portrait of the tumultuous union between her Boston Brahmin mother and her enigmatic black father, Danzy Senna offers a powerfully personal take on the progress of American race relations since the civil rights movement. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? reminds us of the consequences of our origins and our inescapable desire to make sense of them.