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Luster: Book summary and reviews of Luster by Raven Leilani

Luster

by Raven Leilani

Luster by Raven Leilani X
Luster by Raven Leilani
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2020
    240 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

No one wants what no one wants.
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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A]n unstable ballet of race, sex, and power. Leilani's characters act in ways that often defy explanation, and that is part of what makes them so alive and so mesmerizing: Whose behavior, in real life, can be reduced to simple cause and effect? Sharp, strange, propellant—and a whole lot of fun." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] moving examination of a young black woman's economic desperation and her relationship to violence...the narration is perceptive, funny, and emotionally charged. Edie's frank, self-possessed voice will keep a firm grip on readers all the way to the bitter end." - Publishers Weekly

"Exacting, hilarious, and deadly...A writer of exhilarating freedom and daring." - Zadie Smith, Harper's Bazaar

"Narrated with fresh and wry jadedness, Edie's every disappointment [is] rendered with a comic twist...Edie's life is a mess, her past is filled with sorrow, she's wasting her precious youth, and yet, reading about it all is a whole lot of fun." - Vogue

"Sometimes, on very rare occasions, you read a debut novel with a narrative voice that is so assured, so confident, so astute, and so devastatingly funny, it leaves you reeling...Leilani's brutally accurate observations and rapier wit make this novel a singular, mordant delight. I know it's a cliché, but I really cannot recommend this book highly enough." - Buzzfeed News

"Darkly funny with wicked insight...This keenly observed, dynamic debut is so cutting, it almost stings." - Elle

"A darkly funny, hilariously moving debut from a stunning new voice. Luster follows the unforgettable Edie, a hapless young woman suffocating under her own loneliness, whose caustic observations made me laugh out loud and gasp in recognition. 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 Mothers

"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 is intellectually supple and steely at the same time; she thinks and perceives blessedly outside any kind of norm. She has made a truly lustrous piece of art." - Mary Gaitskill, author of This Is Pleasure

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Author Information

Raven Leilani

Raven Leilani's work has been published in Granta, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Narrative, Yale Review, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. She won Narrative's Ninth Annual Poetry Contest and the Matt Clark Editor's Choice Prize, as well as short fiction prizes from Bat City Review and Blue Earth Review. Luster is her first novel.

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