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Guidebook to Relative Strangers

Nonfiction: Autobiography, Biography
Unabridged   6.5 hour(s)
Publication date: 06/13/2017

2018 National Book Critics Circle Awards

Guidebook to Relative Strangers

Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781681686639
Digital Download ISBN:9781681686646


An award winning African American poet debuts in prose with a stunningly graceful and honest exploration of race, motherhood, and history.

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Product Description

As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille T. Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then a toddler. As they travel, Dungy is intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child but as black females. With a poet's eye, she celebrates the particular in the universal, such as a child's acquisition of language and what to pack in a diaper bag. At the same time, her horizons are wide, as history shadows her steps everywhere she goes: from the San Francisco of settlers' and investors' dreams to the slave-trading ports of Ghana; from snow-white Maine to a festive, yet threatening, bonfire in the Virginia pinewoods.

With exceptional candor, Dungy explores our inner and outer worlds—the multitudinous experiences of mothering, illness, and the ever-present embodiment of race—finding fear and trauma but also mercy, kindness, and community. Penetrating and generous, far-seeing and intimate, her prose is an essential guide for a troubled land.


"Listeners will appreciate Johnson's use of tone and accents to differentiate these relative strangers." —AudioFile

"Allyson Johnson's voice is richly layered and smoothly rhythmic." —Library Journal

“This is the guidebook we need right now, the insights of a clear-headed observer rendered in a poet’s powerful language. . . . [A] compelling, persuasive, fully realized exploration of relative strangers, and the strangers within.” —Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Great with Child

“An elegant, meditative love letter to the life of the writer, the natural world, histories from which we cannot nor should not extricate ourselves, black womanhood, black motherhood, and the unabashed joy of raising up a black girl. . . . [A]s intimate as it is expansive.” —Roxane Gay, author of Difficult Women

“Calm, lucid, and sturdy, Dungy’s account stares down the effects and unevenly distributed burdens of our shared past and present with clear eyes, full heart, and the kind of dedication to fact, feeling, and history that we truly need now, as ever.” —Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

Author Bio

Camille T. Dungy is an award winning poet and editor and a professor of creative writing at Colorado State University. She lives with her husband and child in Fort Collins.