Danzy Senna was born in Boston, Massachusetts and is the daughter of the author Carl Senna (The Black Press and the Struggle for Civil Rights,) an African American poet with Mexican heritage who came from a struggling single-parent household, and Fanny Howe, an Irish-American poet and novelist born into privilege. They met and married while both were activists during the American Civil Rights Movement .
Senna received her B.A. from Stanford University and MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, where she received several creative writing awards.
Her first novel, Caucasia (1998), received the Book-of-the-Month Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. It also received the Alex Award , American Library Association..
Her second novel Symptomatic (2003), is a psychological thriller narrated by a biracial young woman who is often mistaken for white.
Senna's latest work is a memoir entitled Where Did You Sleep Last Night?: A Personal History (2009).