White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination


Product Details

$16.00  $14.88
Graywolf Press
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 1.0 inches | 0.9 pounds
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About the Author

Jess Row is the author of the novel Your Face in Mine and the story collections The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost. One of Granta's Best of Young American Novelists of 2007, he lives in New York and teaches at the College of New Jersey.


"For Row, there's an analogue [to white flight] in contemporary fiction: white authors fleeing the problem of race. . . . Row demonstrates this through astute close readings in which he analyzes postwar fiction with a loving sternness that avoids didacticism even as he pingpongs among cultural artifacts, decoding everything from Don DeLillo's Underworld to emo music. . . . We should accompany Row through this important inquiry."--The New York Times Book Review

"[Jess Row] open[s] a dialogue about how white literature often ignores nonwhite experiences and narratives, and how to create a space for inclusivity that starts with the writing arena. . . . He's brilliant and insightful."--The Washington Post

"Row's humbleness makes [White Flights] possible, as he writes about a place of reconciliation we have yet to reach. . . . Row's work is a step toward undermining this binary classification, and an opportunity to decode all that has come before."--Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"[Jess Row] tackles head-on the conundrums most of us like to deflect -- such as whether people have a 'right' to represent other races in fiction -- and he does so thoughtfully and gracefully, but without equivocation or evasion."--Vulture

"Row's writing is consistently compelling, a necessary read for anyone who wants their art to be challenging, not merely comforting."--NYLON

"White Flights is a faultlessly argued collection of essays about how whiteness dominates the American literary imagination. . . . Failing to desegregate and decolonize the white imagination has caused immeasurable political and sociological harm. Row has demonstrated, quite brilliantly, how it causes harm in literature as well."--Katherine Coldiron, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Row has produced a thoughtful and timely meditation that serves as a call to white writers."--PopMatters

"With this groundbreaking book, [Jess Row] explores how literature can, but also could, shape the way we interact with people from different backgrounds."--Inside Hook

"This intelligent collection is often deeply engaged in realms of philosophy and literary theory. . . . There is something for every reader . . . in the message that fiction not only reflects but acts upon real life, and that each of us is obliged to act for justice, in reading and writing as in life."--Shelf Awareness

"Wide-ranging, erudite, and impassioned. . . . Row melds memoir, literary and cultural criticism, and philosophical reflection in seven essays that examine how whiteness is imagined and represented in 'novels, short stories, films [and] plays.'. . . [White Flights] is a significant contribution to the cultural landscape. A disquieting, deeply thoughtful cultural critique."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Full of brilliant readings and beautifully written, this mind-altering work of criticism establishes Row as one of the preeminent cultural critics of our age."--Booklist, starred review

"Moving outside of white literature's often isolated and emotionally numb terrain, [Row] discusses how reparative writing can effect reconciliation. [White Flights is] for readers fascinated by race and reparative writing, now and in American history, and the transformative potential of literature to change minds and emphasize our common humanity."--Library Journal, starred review

"Gutsy, capable, urgent, innovative, and timely: these elegant essays think and write across lines of race in American culture."--Judges' citation, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant

"These are brilliant, sweeping, intimate delights--and afterward, you may never read the same way again."--Alexander Chee

"With these superb essays, Jess Row reveals himself to be an insightful critic of both literature and the American condition."--Viet Thanh Nguyen

"A major literary and intellectual intervention, clarifying the real stakes in what we too complacently call 'identity politics.'"--Pankaj Mishra

"We need this book, now and yesterday."--Kiese Laymon

"Jess Row performs a much-needed analysis. . . . The landscape of the imagination, like the country itself, he argues with rich insight and brio, is neither equal nor free."--John Keene

"White Flights will change my work, and my life, and for that I'm grateful."--Jonathan Lethem

"With care and complexity, White Flights furthers a crucial national conversation on whiteness, white spaces, and racism, and how these concepts define American literature. More than just provoking thought, this book will provoke dialogue and discussion--exactly what we all need."--Beth Bich Minh Nguyen