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Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio present Talking Volumes with CLAUDIA RANKINE

Tuesday, September 22
Show | 7pm

Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune are proud to announce the 21st season of Talking Volumes. Talking Volumes is hosted by award-winning journalist Kerri Miller. In response to COVID-19 and the state restriction on large gatherings, this season we are going virtual! All events will be held via Webinar and will include Kerri’s interviews with the authors and a live interactive panel discussion moderated by the Star Tribune.

Featuring stunning new talent and familiar vibrant voices, writing in genres spanning from fiction to nature writing, and enjoyable from the comfort of your own couch, the 21st season of Talking Volumes is one you won’t want to miss.

As this is a very different Talking Volumes season, we have a different way to get your tickets. We’re happy to offer tickets on a Pay-What-You-Can model, with price points at $20, $10, $5 and Free. Tickets are on sale starting Tuesday, September 1st at noon CDT.

Claudia Rankine “Just Us: An American Conversation”

Poet, playwright, bestselling author, MacArthur Fellow, and Yale professor Claudia Rankine writes these words in an essay within JUST US: An American Conversation (Graywolf Press | September 8, 2020) in which she reflects, with signature candor, on a dinner conversation at which the 2016 presidential election comes up. Intimate, earnest, and shrewd, this section speaks to the shape and spirit of the book, a kaleidoscopic arrangement of images, poems, essays, and other texts that triumphantly concludes the multidisciplinary project Rankine began with Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and the award-winning blockbuster Citizen. In JUST US, Rankine moves beyond the structure of her previous works, subverting her own narrative authority by engaging friends and strangers in a dialogue around race and whiteness that models for readers how they, too, might navigate a divided America.

JUST US is an investigation into what might happen if we rejected politesse and stuffy rules of etiquette in favor of risky, meaningful human connection. The encounters here are Rankine’s effort to collapse the false comforts of liminal and private spaces—the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth. Giving space to the voices and rebuttals of others, these conversations touch on topics as rangy as the political currency of blondness, the 2016 election, and inevitable fissures between longtime friends. Sometimes tender and frequently uncomfortable, these fragments and confrontations contain all the humor, suffering, embarrassment, and joy inherent to human coexistence.

Zeitgeisty and historical, JUST US draws on the work of James Baldwin and Emily Dickinson; outlines the construction of whiteness in America; considers Beyoncé, Donald Trump, the Obamas, and Big Little Lies; contains incisive poetry and artistic analysis; and incorporates Facebook posts, tweets, peer-reviewed studies, a transcript of a police training seminar, and letters and emails. In doing so, the book constructs a vital context around the conversations at its center. In its nuance, JUST US is an antidote to prescriptivist narratives and surface-level discussions about race and diversity. Refreshingly, the work is animated less by its author’s theories than her curiosity. Asking more often than she answers, Rankine asserts and reconsiders, admits to missteps, muses and wonders in all directions. I don’t know, she writes. I’m simply exploring and not insisting.

JUST US is the final installment of a trilogy that has played brilliantly with form to the extent of establishing a new literary mode altogether. In these pages, Rankine fully affirms her place in the American canon alongside the renowned writers she references in her work. At least as immediately useful as it is thematically timeless, JUST US is certain to spark necessary, disruptive conversations like the ones it recounts.

Please consider supporting a local bookstore when you purchase these titles.

Magers and Quinn


Subtext Books



About the Host

Kerri Miller joined Minnesota Public Radio in June 2004 as host of Minnesota Public Radio’s Midmorning and Talking Volumes, the joint book club of MPR, the Star Tribune in collaboration with the Loft Literary Center. She has been a radio and television news reporter since 1981. She has won numerous awards, including the Society of Professional Journalists National Achievement Award, Minnesota Broadcasters Award, the Associated Press Award and a Gracie award from the Association of Women in Radio and Television.


Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune would like to thank this years Talking Volumes Season sponsors Becker Furniture World, Bremer Banks and Thomson Reuters.

About Talking Volumes

Talking Volumes, a partnership of Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune is a winner of the prestigious Gracie Allen Award.  Talking Volumes was noted for its superior quality in writing, production and programming. The program spotlights books with feature articles, live broadcasts with the author, in-person readings and discussions, and more. 

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