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What We Lose: A Novel
by Zinzi Clemmons

Published: 2017-07-11
Hardcover : 224 pages
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“The debut novel of the year.” Vogue

“A richly volatile study of grief, wonderment and love.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“A startling, poignant debut.” The Atlantic

“Raw and ravishing, this novel pulses with vulnerability and shimmering anger.” —Nicole ...
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Introduction

“The debut novel of the year.” Vogue

“A richly volatile study of grief, wonderment and love.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“A startling, poignant debut.” The Atlantic

“Raw and ravishing, this novel pulses with vulnerability and shimmering anger.” —Nicole Dennis-Benn, O, the Oprah Magazine

“Stunning. . . . Powerfully moving and beautifully wrought, What We Lose reflects on family, love, loss, race, womanhood, and the places we feel home.” —Buzzfeed

“Remember this name: Zinzi Clemmons. Long may she thrill us with exquisite works like What We Lose. . . . The book is a remarkable journey.” —Essence

From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African-American woman coming of age—a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and country

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being black and white, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor—someone, or something, to love.

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.

One of the New York Times, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Redbook, Marie Claire, Essence, Houston Chronicle, LA Daily News, Nylon, and Elle’s Books to Read This Summer

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of July 2017: In its simplest form, What We Lose tells a story of a young African American woman coming to terms with adulthood and the death of her mother. As Thandi tries to process the truths that cannot possibly be, she swings from gut emotion—“She’s gone. But she’s here, I can feel her. I can see her that day they told us that everything was going to be all right. But she’s not here. But I can feel her arms around me. It feels like the breeze coming off the river…it smells like her breath.”—to searing observations about the word in which we live: “I’ve often thought that being a light-skinned black woman is like a being a well-dressed person who is also homeless...you have nowhere to rest, nowhere to feel safe.” The novel weaves in and out of the past and present, from memories of childhood to Thandi’s own pregnancy and love affairs, to visits to her mother's childhood home in Johannesburg. There are photographs, graphs, drawings, pages filled with a single line that infuse the story with an immediacy. Through Thandi’s pain and process, she (re)constructs her identity from the memory of her mother, family, her experiences, and the reality of the world that surrounds her. A breathtaking novel. --Al Woodworth

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by dbublik (see profile) 04/19/19

 
by [email protected] (see profile) 06/28/18

A fantastic book about the reality of grief.

 
by Ljwagoner (see profile) 03/02/18

A story of grief and the struggle to search for wholeness after a loss. Clemons writes this story in short vignettes that sometimes seem to go together and at times makes no sense to their placement in... (read more)

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