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August 2020 Indie Next List
“Luster centers on Edie, a young black woman working in New York publishing and barely making rent each month, who finds herself navigating a suburban white couple’s open marriage. This novel is filled with unexpected turns taken at breakneck speeds. It seamlessly examines the plight of millennials living under capitalism along with the complications of intimacy and race, all while finding both the humor and profound sadness in those things. This is a multifaceted and brilliant book, as well as an extraordinary debut from Raven Leilani.”
— Billy Butler, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER
LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER
And how do we even know what we want? How do we know we're ready to take it? Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties--sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She is also haltingly, fitfully giving heat and air to the art that simmers inside her. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage--with rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren't hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric's home--though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows. Irresistibly unruly and strikingly beautiful, razor-sharp and slyly comic, sexually charged and utterly absorbing, Raven Leilani's Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make sense of her life--her hunger, her anger--in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent, and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.
About the Author
Raven Leilani's work has been published in Granta, The Yale Review, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA fromNYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel.