‘A book of pure fineness, exceptional.’ – Diana Evans, Guardian
‘A taut, sharp, funny book about being young now. It’s brutal-and brilliant.’ – Zadie Smith
Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021
Longlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2021
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.
Razor-sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Guardian, New York Times, New Yorker, Boston Globe, Literary Hub, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Time, Good Housekeeping, InStyle, NPR, O Magazine, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Town & Country, Wired, New Statesman, Vox, Shelf Awareness, i-D, BookPage and more.
One of Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2020
Leilani's story of Edie, a broke 23-year-old black woman who gets involved with a wealthy older white couple, cuts to the quick of the often grim realities of being young and black in the US today. But it's wincingly funny, too . . . Leilani's prose mesmerises; you go with her, wherever she decides to take you . . . A remarkable portrait of the artist as a young woman. * Observer * [Leilani] is a caustic, funny and skilful storyteller, taking us deeply and convincingly inside the head of a millennial woman frantically trying to make sense of the world and her place within it. * Sunday Times * In this cutting, hot-blooded book, the entanglements that unfold are as complicated as they are heartbreaking. * New Statesman * With deadpan wit and remarkable talent, Raven Leilani effortlessly exposes the chasms between generations, faces and genders. * Vogue * A taut, sharp, funny book about being young now. It's brutal-and brilliant. -- Zadie Smith, author of Swing Time Luster is entirely remarkable, and the most delicious novel I've read. I couldn't get enough of Raven Leilani's starkly accurate portrayal of the nuances of being a young woman today. -- Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie Every so often, a debut novel so dazzling in its brilliance renders you unable to see the world in quite the same way for some time. Raven Leilani's Luster illuminates the world anew, like a firework . . . it is truly a work of art. * i * A darkly funny, hilariously moving debut from a stunning new voice. Raven Leilani crafts a beautiful, bighearted story about intimacy and art that will astound and wound you. I couldn't put this one down. -- Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half I was blown away by this debut novel . . . Every sentence is a treat to read, even when it is plumbing the bleakest truths of society and humanity. It is political and emotional, tender and sharp, absurd and relatable, heartbreaking and funny. The writing is packed with sharp observations of the most eccentric human behaviour, all propelled with an addictively page-turning plot. It is exquisite. -- Dolly Alderton, author of Ghosts Written in cool prose as brittle as glass, Luster throws down the gauntlet to a politicised contemporary moment eager to see blazingly affirmative stories of black lives in literature . . . [Edie's] voice . . . is unforgettable. More novels like this please. * Daily Mail * This wild dark comedy is absolutely the real deal . . . Leilani's live-wire sentences are a giddy joy, crafted with mischievous perfection and full of smart things to say on hot-button issues. * Mail on Sunday * You could stay in there all day, swathed in the magnificence of its language, the surprises of the sentences and their psychedelic, uncharted destinations . . . This is a book of pure fineness, exceptional. -- Diana Evans * Guardian * Raven Leilani is a writer of unusual daring, with a voice that is unique and fully formed. There is humor, intelligence, emotion, and power in her work. I cannot think of a writer better suited to capture our contemporary moment. -- Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation Luster is ridiculously good: gorgeous, dark, and funny, with sentences that'll wreck you. I will follow this author anywhere she wants to take me. -- Carmen Maria Machado author of In the Dream House Tension that keeps the reader hooked until the very last page . . . Leilani observes the dissatisfactions of Edie's 21st-century life with a brutal and beautiful keenness. * Harper's Bazaar * The narrative voice of this startling novel is layered, complex, pitch-black comic, and deadly earnest, even ardent in its will to sift through the chaos and idiocy of our madhouse culture and find some glimpse of human reality. Raven Leilani has made a truly lustrous piece of art. -- Mary Gaitskill, author of This Is Pleasure If you like Normal People, you'll love Luster . . . a squirm inducing marvel * Buzzfeed Books * Raven Leilani's style is a truly original mix of the new and the wise, of wit and despair. She has poignantly captured the obsession that drives, and often destroys, every true artist. I adored Luster for its honesty and weird beauty. -- Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither A beguiling fever dream of a novel, shot through with wistfulness, humor, and a kind of breathless, furious verve. You'll find it impossible to put down. -- Ling Ma, author of Severance Hilarious, honest, bursting with desire and cutting insight, Luster is absolutely captivating. I didn't so much read it, as gulp it down. There's so much to learn here, so much to admire. Leilani is an irreverent, impeccable stylist-a voice we need right now. -- Justin Torres, author of We the Animals A coming-of-age story that's sure to keep you turning pages * Refinery29 * Spinning fresh commentary on both race and class, tensions in the house rise as Raven Leilani propels her lost protagonist on a darkly funny journey of self-discovery. * Time * Raw, racy, and utterly mesmerizing, Luster is among the most dazzling novels of the year, marking the arrival of a major new voice . . . Dreamlike, tender, and big-hearted, Luster is a must-read * Esquire * This book is luminous, glorious. From the first sentence I knew there was word-magic here and that I would read any sentence Leilani cares to write. What a marvel. -- Daisy Johnson, author of Everything Under I adored this wry, vital, mesmeric novel. In glorious, exhilarating sentences, Leilani crafts a story that is both deeply moving and brimming with originality and insight. -- Megan Hunter, author of The Harpy Luster is a headlong carousel of a novel. With liquid prose and a painter's eye for colour, texture and light, Luster grapples vigorously with what it means to make art in a world pumping out racism-induced cortisol. -- Naoise Dolan, author of Exciting Times Luster is as close to perfect a book as you'll read this year. I promise you - Raven Leilani is about to become your new obsession. -- Louise O'Neill, author of Asking For It A big, bold novel, visceral and unsettling, about a young Black woman desperate to find herself but looking in all the wrong places. * Red magazine * Brilliant in terms of voice, Luster is equally strong on plot and structure. In her leavening of cynicism with hope, Raven Leilani writes as if she were three books wise, at least. * TLS *
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