Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?

Kathleen Collins

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


A sensual, dazzling introduction to the work of Kathleen Collins, a pioneering African-American filmmaker and writer whose fiction went unpublished in her lifetime.

It is the summer of 1963, and New York is filled with lovers and protestors. Young women grow out their hair and discover the taste of new freedoms. Young men, white and black, travel south to fight against segregation, dreaming of a society in which love is colour-free.

Written in the late 1960s and early 1970s but overlooked in Kathleen Collins's lifetime, these stories mark the debut of a masterful writer whose electrifying voice was almost lost to history.

About the author


‘[The stories] are devastating tales of family strife, disappointing lovers and thwarted idealism, all delivered from a candid female perspective that's refreshing, even to a contemporary reader... These stories have resurfaced when the attitude of the West seem once again at risk of taking a crueller turn, and this lends them further heartbreaking resonance... A gifted and insightful writer’ James Robinson



A fascinating collection of short stories and vignettes... an exciting discoveryLucy Scholes

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

Fresh and timely and beautifully written... sharp and engrossingAnna James

Rarely does a "lost work" feel like it has cheated history by not being found... Contemporary in voice and pertinent to our times, Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? has emerged at an appropriate moment... As the world changes shape before our eyes, we need books like this to help us prepare for what is to comeJonathon McAloon

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

‘A seasoned literary voice - modern, confident, emotionally intelligent and humorous - emerges from the pages of the posthumously published Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?... Persistently delightful... [Collins's] stories seem fresh and distinctive and, in a new age of anxiety and crisis of identity, startlingly prescientColin Grant

‘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

‘Rarely has black female depression and desire been recorded; in this collection, it is detailed with bold sensitivity... Collins's lucidity with language creates striking moments in time... We hear a distinctly original voice and are left to wonder about the mechanisms which served to keep it quiet for so long’ Lucie Elliott

‘Reading [these stories] in the post-Obama era plunges you straight into a time of freedom riders and bohemians, of hope and defeat... The prose is supple, the commentary - underscored by racial, gender and sexual politics - bracing’ Ruchira Sharma

‘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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