Caucasia by Danzy Senna
A Novel

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 7 Critic Reviews



In Caucasia—Danzy Senna's extraordinary debut novel and national bestseller—Birdie and Cole are the daughters of a black father and a white mother, intellectuals and activists in the Civil Rights Movement in 1970s Boston. The sisters are so close that they have created a private language, yet to the outside world they can't be sisters: Birdie appears to be white, while Cole is dark enough to fit in with the other kids at the Afrocentric school they attend. For Birdie, Cole is the mirror in which she can see her own blackness.

Then their parents' marriage falls apart. Their father's new black girlfriend won't even look at Birdie, while their mother gives her life over to the Movement: at night the sisters watch mysterious men arrive with bundles shaped like rifles.

One night Birdie watches her father and his girlfriend drive away with Cole—they have gone to Brazil, she will later learn, where her father hopes for a racial equality he will never find in the States. The next morning—in the belief that the Feds are after them—Birdie and her mother leave everything behind: their house and possessions, their friends, and—most disturbing of all—their identity. Passing as the daughter and wife of a deceased Jewish professor, Birdie and her mother finally make their home in New Hampshire. Desperate to find Cole, yet afraid of betraying her mother and herself to some unknown danger, Birdie must learn to navigate the white world—so that when she sets off in search of her sister, she is ready for what she will find. At once a powerful coming-of-age story and a groundbreaking work on identity and race in America, "Caucasia deserves to be read all over" (Glamour).


About Danzy Senna

See more books from this Author
Danzy Senna 's first novel, Caucasia, won the Stephen Crane Award for Best New Fiction and the ALA's Alex Award, was a finalist for the IMPAC Award, and was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Senna is also the author of Symptomatic and the memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night? She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons.
Published February 1, 1999 by Riverhead Books. 432 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Caucasia

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

An ambitious debut novel that powerfully, if schematically, addresses the conditions of those living in the great racial no- man's-land—that is to say, the children of mixed marriage—who belong to both races but are often also rejected by both.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Birdie is so close to her older sister Cole that they speak a private language, but while Cole appears black, Birdie is taken to be white, provoking flickers of "surprise, sometimes amusement, sometimes disbelief" in strangers.

Dec 02 2000 | Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

After her father and Cole move to Brazil and the feds start to investigate her mother's mysterious political activities, Birdie and her mother go underground, posing as the wife and daughter of sympathetic professor David Goldman.

| Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel


Danzy Senna truly captured all aspects of being mixed in her book, Caucasia.

Jan 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

After the Lees' marriage unravels, Sandy and Birdie move to a nearly all-white New Hampshire suburb — where, years later, Birdie must confront her racial identity and the lost half of her family.

Apr 03 1998 | Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel

Booklist Online

But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 170,000 reviews.

Feb 15 1998 | Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel

Project MUSE

But the box has profound significance for Deck as he takes custody of Cole, his darker-skinned daughter, and leaves the fair-skinned Birdie and his white wife behind.

| Read Full Review of Caucasia: A Novel

Reader Rating for Caucasia

An aggregated and normalized score based on 151 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review