What We’re Reading in December!


We’re excited to share that our December Book Club Book Club selection is the déjà vu by Gabrielle Civil, forthcoming from Coffee House Press on January 25 but available to Rumpus Book Club members in just a few weeks!

Emerging from the intersection of pandemic and uprising, the déjà vu activates forms both new and ancestral, drawing movement, speech, and lyric essay into performance memoir. As Civil considers Haitian tourist paintings, dance rituals, race at the movies, Black feminist legacies, and more, she reflects on her personal losses and desires, speculates on Black time, and dreams into expansive Black life. With intimacy, humor, and verve, the déjà vu blurs boundaries between memory, grief, and love; then, now, and the future.

“What if we could offer our archives to each other like flowers? Hold them in glass, heavy but transparent. What if we could show each other the journey of unknowing and remembering ourselves now? Why would we wait? With this work, Gabrielle Civil continues to model generosity, bravery, and vulnerability as core principles of Black feminist performance, creativity, and living. Read it for the beauty, the Black feminist references. Read it for a particular herstory of this time. Look for what you might be unknowing right now and what you need urgently to remember.” – Alexis Pauline Gumbs, author of Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

“So often, in reading the déjà vu, I’m reminded of how breakable memory is, especially when that memory tries to hold trauma within it. The act of remembering itself haunts the déjà vu as Gabrielle Civil catalogues her experience through impetuous lists, vigorous anaphora, repetition, and the interpretation of dreams, both waking and asleep. Civil meets the multiplicity of memory with formal multiplicity. There are several categories of memory, after all: childhood nostalgia has a peculiar quality to it; history is never yet fully formed; and visioning, also, is related to dreams. Moving in and out of enjambment, Civil works from poetry to prose to arts criticism to inexplicable junctures of poetic bravery to sheer amplitude to breaks into the conversational to epistolary to performance. In all this plurality, Civil manages to deliver a kind of replete self-accounting, or auto-theory, in the déjà vu. She goes deeper than ekphrasis or arts criticism, toward an experience that’s closer to that of intimately living with, and within, the text of our culture.” – Anaïs Duplan, author of Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture

Subscribe to the Rumpus Book Club by November 15 to join us in reading the déjà vu, culminating in an exclusive online discussion with author Gabrielle Civil about the book!

Learn more about The Rumpus Book Club here. More from this author →