White Flights is a meditation on whiteness in American fiction and culture from the end of the civil rights movement to the present. At the heart of the book, Jess Row ties “white flight”—the movement of white Americans into segregated communities, whether in suburbs or newly gentrified downtowns—to white writers setting their stories in isolated or emotionally insulated landscapes, from the mountains of Idaho in Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping to the claustrophobic households in Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. Row uses brilliant close readings of work from well-known writers such as Don DeLillo, Annie Dillard, Richard Ford, and David Foster Wallace to examine the ways these and other writers have sought imaginative space for themselves at the expense of engaging with race.
White Flights aims to move fiction to a more inclusive place, and Row looks beyond criticism to consider writing as a reparative act. What would it mean, he asks, if writers used fiction “to approach each other again”? Row turns to the work of James Baldwin, Dorothy Allison, and James Alan McPherson to discuss interracial love in fiction, while also examining his own family heritage as a way to interrogate his position. A moving and provocative book that includes music, film, and literature in its arguments, White Flights is an essential work of cultural and literary criticism.
Jess Row is the author of White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination, as well as the novel Your Face in Mine and the story collections The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost. White Flights is his first book of nonfiction. One of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists of 2007, he lives in New York and teaches at the College of New Jersey.
John Keene's recent books include the story collection Counternarratives (New Directions, 2015, 2016), and several books of poetry. He also has translated the Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer (Nightboat Books, 2014), and numerous other authors from Portuguese, French and Spanish. His recent honors include an American Book Award, a Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction, as well as a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. He chairs the department of African American and African Studies, and teaches English and creative writing at Rutgers University-Newark.
Fiona McCrae has been publisher of Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press since 1994, following 11 years with the British publishers Faber and Faber, of which the last three were spent in Faber’s office in Boston. Authors that Fiona has published at Graywolf include Elizabeth Alexander, Charles Baxter, Per Petterson, Salvatore Scibona, and Percival Everett. She currently serves on the boards of the National Book Foundation and the Anderson Center. Fiona received the Editor’s Award from Poets & Writers in 2017 and the Golden Colophon Award for leadership from the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses in 2014.