What We Lose: A Novel by Zinzi Clemmons

Product description
A National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree
NBCC John Leonard First Book Prize Finalist
Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalist
California Book Award First Fiction Finalist
Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Debut Novel Nominee
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction & the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize
Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, NPR, Elle, Esquire, Buzzfeed, San Francisco Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, The Root, Harper’s Bazaar, Paste, Bustle, Kirkus Reviews, Electric Literature, LitHub, New York Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Bust

“The debut novel of the year.” —Vogue

“Like so many stories of the black diaspora, What We Lose is an examination of haunting.” —Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker

“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
“Potent . . . A loosely autobiographical exorcism of grief. Boldly innovative and frankly sexual, the collage-like novel mixes hand-drawn charts, archival photographs, rap lyrics, sharp disquisitions on the Mandelas and Oscar Pistorius, and singular meditations on racism’s brutal intimacies. . . . A novel as visceral as it is cerebral, never letting us forget, over the course of its improbably expansive 200 pages, the feeling of untameable grief in the body. . . . One can’t help but think of Clemmons as in the running to be the next-generation Claudia Rankine.”
—Megan O’Grady, Vogue

“Like so many stories of the black diaspora, What We Lose is an examination of haunting. . . . Thandi, Clemmons’s narrator, carefully reeling after the death of her mother, occupies a voice so clear that she, and her grief, feel immediately tangible.”
—Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker

“In stark prose, Clemmons’s narrator, Thandi, grieves the agonizing loss of her difficult and loving immigrant mother to cancer. Searing vignettes describe her life before and after her mother’s death. . . . The book’s distinctive form and voice give it an unusual capacity to show how individuals connect deep feeling to broad political understanding—an experience too rarely rendered in fiction.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Contrasting what it means to be black in America with being black in Johannesburg, where her mother’s relatives still live, Clemmons presents a brutally honest yet nuanced view of contemporary identity. . . . Raw and ravishing, this novel pulses with vulnerability and shimmering anger.”
—Nicole Dennis-Benn, O, the Oprah Magazine

“Who do we become when we lose a parent? That transformation and the loss of identity . . . is at the heart of Zinzi Clemmons’ novel What We Lose.”

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

“This affecting novel combines autobiographical vignettes with photos and pertinent charts—one tracks longevity by race—as the narrator reckons with her loss.”

“A startling, poignant debut. . . . The book’s force comes as much from its form as from its content. . . . A striking novel about filial grief.”
—The Atlantic

“Illness, race, and heartbreak collide in this beautiful debut about a college student who’s trying to come to terms with the death of her vivacious South African-born mother.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“An episodic novel about a young woman struggling with issues of grief, romance and racial identity after her mother’s death.”
—John Williams, The New York Times

“ What We Lose is about a young woman enduring the loss of her mother. Structured innovatively in precise vignettes, it stares down questions of emotional inheritance, belonging, grief and race. . . . The sense of experimentation in What We Lose includes excerpts from other writers and a number of illustrations. . . . The nontraditional structure of the book, which is not chronological but thematic, mimics loss itself—the fragmentation and persistence of memory in the face of what comes next, like having a child or falling in love.”
—Agatha French, The Los Angeles Times

“A debut of haunting fragments. . . . The novel sets out to do important work: to explore the contours of race, class and gender and the legacy of apartheid; and it succeeds best when exploring these ideas through the delicately drawn and profoundly moving portrait it offers of a relationship between mother and daughter.”
—The Guardian

“Remember this name: Zinzi Clemmons. Long may she thrill us with exquisite works like What We Lose, her debut. Young Thandi, our heroine, grows up in Pennsylvania feeling like a fish on a bicycle. Why? As a biracial woman whose mother hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, she struggles to define home. In Clemmons’s hands the book is a remarkable journey.”
—Patrick Henry Bass, Essence

“Debut novelist Zinzi Clemmons weaves an autobiographically inspired tapestry with What We Lose. In a moving series of vignettes that combine South Africa, Main Line Philadelphia, and bloody headlines, this intimate narrative tells the story of a mixed-race girl and her struggle to fit in—not so much with the outside world as with herself when her life is colonized by calamity.”
—Vanity Fair

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: