Milk Blood Heat
Dantiel W. Moniz
‘A seething excavation of want and human error’ Raven Leilani, author of Luster
‘Glorious, ecstatic, devastating… A gorgeous debut from a wickedly talented new author’
Lauren Groff, author of Florida
‘Sultry, dark, thick with the heat of bodies and minds in sin and transgression. Incredible’
Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
A thirteen-year-old girl watches her white best friend totter along the edge of a building roof; a woman who lost her child in its first trimester finds empathy and horror in the waters of a city aquarium; a mother protects her teen daughter from a predatory love interest by taking revenge over a very French supper; and two estranged siblings take a road-trip with their dead father’s ashes – rediscovering one another and reckoning with all the ways that trust can be betrayed and love can be redeemed.
Set in the suburbs and the cities of the modern world but about the ancient essences of who and what we are, Milk Blood Heat is a collection of love and sex, birth and death. Through the stories of ordinary characters confronted by extraordinary moments of violent yet often beautiful reckoning, Dantiel W. Moniz contemplates human connection, race, womanhood, inheritance, and the elemental darkness in us all. Wise and subversive, spiritual and seductive, Milk Blood Heat showcases that the world in which we live can be a place of obstacles and heartbreak… but also one of grace and splendour.
A Roxane Gay Bookclub Pick
Dantiel W. Moniz sings of Florida, girlhood, family, loss, and the glorious, ecstatic, devastating human body in Milk Blood Heat. A gorgeous debut from a wickedly talented new writer. * Lauren Groff, author of Florida * This collection is a seething excavation of want and human error. Moniz writes about the hard incongruities of intimacy with great urgency and tenderness. * Raven Leilani, author of Luster * The stories in this memorable debut have the mood of late summer evenings, sultry and dark, thick with the heat of minds and bodies engaged in sin and transgression, suffused with complicated desire, boldness, and shame. I suggest you pay attention to this book and to this voice, wherever it goes on to take us. With this cast of lovable, heartbreaking characters, Dantiel Moniz is announcing her incredible range and sensitivity, as well as her fearlessness in looking squarely at our human condition, in all its raggedness and beauty. * Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man * The stories in this book are rigorous and complex, lush and surprising. They are visceral, full of the intimate awe of existing in flesh. A wonder of a debut. * Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black * A collection for the ages, incandescent and seething. Equal parts grief, violence, and want, and you'll be glad for this jagged awakening. * T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls * These stories and the characters that drive them are like lightning - spectacular, beautiful, carrying a hint of danger. A stunning and important debut. * Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self * Like the title of Dantiel Moniz's Milk Blood Heat, there's a comfort and a piercing in these stories, a prickling on the skin, an astutely honest gaze sometimes searing through places and emotions I both wanted to escape and to linger with. Moniz has crafted a stunning debut collection of stories with living, pinprickly prose, like a hot Florida day or a finger traced up the back. Highly attuned to small power struggles, these are full-bodies stories, with blood and bones and heartbeats, at once otherworldly and completely real. * Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People * Wild and lush, Milk Blood Heat is teeming with beautifully complex women and girls: the contours of their relationships, their fears, their many desires. Moniz mesmerizes and unnerves in prose so precise and decadent it rises to incantation. Each story in this debut feels urgent, necessary, utterly pulsing with life. * Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light * Dantiel W. Moniz wields language with strength and tenderness, her voice unfiltered but never careless, tapping into the floors of our desires, the ceilings of our joys, and everything between. These spectacular stories are snapshots of the everyday and extraordinary, moments of haunting and grief, of violence and ecstasy. * Caleb Azumah Nelson, author of Open Water * This powerful debut collection is a wonderland of deep female characters navigating their lives against the ever changeable backdrop of Florida. The feminine is sublime throughout these stories, featuring girls and women who are submerged in loss, love, death, temptation, and the cruelty and benevolence of motherhood, two sides of the same coin. Each story vibrates with a thrumming undercurrent of primal power, found in both nature and in the most shadowy parts of ourselves... Dark and lushly layered, these stories will bewitch you. * Kirkus * Excellent... Focusing on marginalized communities and limning relationships, longing, and our uneasy passage through a world that often confounds us, she nails aching moments of naked human emotion in direct if luscious language. While many story collections suffer from a sameness of theme, character, or plot, that's not a problem here. The tales are generally set in Florida, but the similarities end there; each entry is distinctive in its premise, and each will surprise the reader in a different way. What gives the collection coherence is Moniz's distinctive vision. * Library Journal, Starred Review * The stories in Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz are glorious. We meet an eclectic cast of Floridians grappling with questions of what it is to be human and how to live in the world: difference, girlhood, womanhood, manhood, pleasure, loss, and the visceral desire to belong. The prose pulsates with wonderment, easing us into moments of discovery that surprise, and deepen, both our and the characters' sense of the world. I enjoyed, particularly, the ways in which these stories are filled with incisive bursts of ecstasy, broadening our experience of joy and heartache. * Novuyo Tshuma, The Millions * The stories in Moniz's debut collection - many of which shine a multihued light on Black girlhood in Florida - are to not only be read but felt. Like Danielle Evans and Lauren Groff, Moniz is unafraid to expose the darkened corners of the Sunshine State, and of female desire. * O, The Oprah Magazine * Mortality is the undercurrent in Dantiel W. Moniz's electrifying debut story collection, "Milk Blood Heat," but where there's death there is the whir of life, too. A lot of collections consist of some duds, yet every single page in this book is a shimmering seashell that contains the sound of multiple oceans. Reading one of Moniz's stories is like holding your breath underwater while letting the salt sting your fresh wounds. It's exhilarating and shocking and even healing. The power in these stories rests in their veracity, vitality and vulnerability. * Washington Post * Black and Latinx girls and women in Florida are the main characters in Dantiel Moniz's thrilling debut story collection. Not-yet-girls, not-yet-women traffic not in princess dresses but in guts and risk. You think writing about menstruation is taboo? What about little girl characters literally drinking blood? Moniz serves up a feast for anyone ready to move beyond the "sugar and spice and everything nice" lie. * Glamour * Explores the myriad messy ways people - siblings, cousins, mothers, daughters - love, or try to love, each other in prose that is both nuanced and so lush you can taste it. Moniz delivers stories that dance with the themes of identity, coming of age, race, human connection, and violence. * Shondaland * Powerful and exceptionally written [...] there isn't a single wasted word or sentence that isn't beautifully crafted. [...] This is all thriller and no filler [...] fiction at its finest. * Simon Savidge, Frank Magazine * Outstanding [...] her perspective is so unusual, and her descriptions so visceral, her stories are a dark but thrilling joyride off the beaten track. [...] Despite all its gothic pretensions, Milk Blood Heat is a celebration: of fraught but fierce relationships, and life in all its fractured glory * The Big Issue * Stunning. Each story is beautiful and complex... This is an outstanding collection of stories that I am sure to return to over and over. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she does next. * Bookanista * In Dantiel W. Moniz's hypnotic collection of short stories, the body is a lascivious, disobedient thing, a crucible for her Black female protagonists' latent, unspoken desires and fears... Milk Blood Heat is largely notable for its resistance to catharsis, and its bold play with abrupt endings and shorn down perspective. It is particularly effective in Moniz's exploration of race; offering no pat lessons or easy conclusions, this collection has little interest in catering for a white gaze. * The Skinny * What makes Moniz stand out isn't so much the blazing talent as the consistency of her literary brilliance. Every single piece - indeed, almost every line - is wrought with remarkable precision and care, and utterly charged with life. It's the best short fiction collection I've read in years. * Sydney Morning Herald * Polished and refined. Moniz's talent really shines when she's writing about girlhood, and her coming-of-age style stories manage to convey a similar theme without ever feeling repetitive. Her writing is descriptive and bright - meaning that reading feels filmic at times * Mslexia * Moniz writes with an emotional agency that aims to shock, excite and leave you wanting more... Startling, dark and lushly layered, Milk Blood Heat is a wonder of a debut * Bad Form *
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