Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

Kathleen Collins

Published: 2 February 2017
Hardback, B Format
129x198mm, 192 pages
ISBN: 9781783783403


Written in the late 1960s and early 1970s but unpublished in Kathleen Collins's lifetime, these stories transport the reader into a world of civil rights conferences and sit-ins, church rallies and art galleries, where poets, freedom riders and lonely young women wait out hot summers in dingy New York apartments, all wondering: whatever happened to interracial love?

Though Collins is now regarded as a pioneering African-American filmmaker and dramatist, her work was largely overlooked and her stories were never published. Collected here for the first time, almost twenty years after the author's death, the stories in Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? reveal a voice that - though it remained unheard for so long - is vital, erotic, compelling.

About the author


A multidimensional revelation... urgent and deeply affecting



Fascinating, urgent and contemporary, Collins's beautifully crafted stories illustrate, with such wit and wisdom, the agonies and politics of identity, not only of black people in a white world, but black people in a black world and all of us living today’ Kit de Waal

Sexy and radical and intimateMiranda July

‘A case study in how a keen cinematic sensibility can energise prose fiction: Collins teases narrative out of pregnant exchanges, epistolary fragments and freeze-framed vistas to produce a vivid snapshot of a singular moment in 20th-century history’ Houman Barekat

‘From the first page you're in the hands of an exceptional writer, and this would be an undiluted joy if not for the fact that Kathleen Collins' voice was never fully heard in her own lifetime. To be this good and yet to be ignored is shameful, but her rediscovery is a great piece of luck, for us. Collins' stories are passionate and light-footed, angry but also delicate - they move like quicksilver, conjuring up character, theme and situation in a couple of pages. She edits precisely - like the film maker she was - and she's deliciously funny. She speaks of the many-sided lives of black women with care and intelligence. I adored this bookZadie Smith

‘Kathleen Collins has the dramatist's gift for multiple voices and viewpoints ... How well she understands mixed motives, emotions and bloodlines. Histories and legacies at cross-purposes. Elective and compulsive affinities, both intellectual and erotic. How unlucky we were to lose her. And how lucky we are to have these storiesMargo Jefferson, author of

‘Kathleen Collins's is an extraordinary voice, with an immediacy and freshness that make it seem all the more cruel that she's not around to give us more of her sharp, witty stories’ Hari Kunzru

‘The artist's fierce prose [...] layers cinematic form over stories rich in characters and ideas... Focusing on issues of race, class and romantic love, her writing and films crackle with wit, sensuality and a steady fury directed at a world in which models of black femininity were (and still are) sorely limited’ Kate Loftus-O'Brien

‘The stories of Kathleen Collins are sharp, tender, and precise - full of wit and pleasure. Reading her feels like eavesdropping on an electric historical moment from a secret perch just above the kitchen table. I lost myself in these stories with a sense of wrestling and delight, grateful for the crackles and surprises they continually delivered’ Leslie Jamison

‘The very existence of this book feels to me an assurance that while we may think we have done our archival work and unearthed all the treasures of black thinking women, there is always something more to find. We have literary foremothers who are not just the ones we know we had, who continue to remind us of ourselves: our minds are intricate. Our desires are complex. we are gorgeously contradictory in our epistemologies. We were not invented yesterday’ Elizabeth Alexander

‘This haunting collection of short stories reveal[s] Collins to have been an equally gifted and insightful writer... From a candid female perspective that's refreshing, even to a contemporary reader. Central are the difficult interracial politics of the era [...] and this lends them further heartbreaking resonance’

‘With the appearance of these 16 lithe and passionate short stories Collins's decades of obscurity are even harder to comprehend. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is distinguished by a rare combination of political consciousness, emotional intimacy and formal adventurousness, as well as by Collins's rich, voluptuous prose... [These stories] are dispatches from a moment in history when it seemed a better future really might be possible, if only people fought for it. That makes them as urgent today as they ever could have been, and a wonderful discoveryEdmund Gordon

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