Danzy Senna, Symptomatic

Reviews

This thriller novel follows an unnamed narrator who is often mistaken for white (though a person of mixed race), as she begins a new internship in New York City where she sublets an apartment with the guidance of a new friend, Greta. Her friend, an older woman, is also mixed and clings to her as their relationship develops. As the relationship gets too invasive by the narrator’s standards, she breaks off the friendship, only to find out that the now crazy Greta is actually Vera, the owner fo the apartment. The narrator is held hostage while the Greta/Vera character gripes about her experience before the ending plot twists. The longest quote is from the aforementioned scene. The book has a lot of gritty, realistic dialogue.

  • [Greta]: “I hate that all the black men with brains or money are looking for white p***y to validate them, and all the white dudes treat me like I’m a goddamned vacation from their real life.  …I hate all those nappy-haired b***hes who gave me such hell growing up ’cause I had light skin and long hair and they didn’t. …I mean, we are the most extreme mother f***ers on the planet – we’re either geniuses or idiots” (152).
  • [Jarvis]: “Mulattoes these days are all ordinary and well adjusted. Even a little boring…almost makes you miss the old head cases” (202).
  • [Greta]: “It a good game, this thing we do. I can become whoever the fuck people want me to be. I can switch from ghettoese to the Queen’s English at the drop of a dime. I can shake my ass and do the fucking fox trot. I can make a white man feel like he’s with the most bodacious black girl alive, all earthy brown sugar and grits, and I can make a brother feel like he’s got the whitest white girl beneath him. …It gets tiring, and after a while, you’re moving so fast, just to survive this game, you forget who you really are” (203).
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