Summary and book reviews of Brass by Xhenet Aliu

Brass

by Xhenet Aliu

Brass by Xhenet Aliu X
Brass by Xhenet Aliu
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  • Published:
    Jan 23, 2018, 304 pages

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Book Summary

Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story.

A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naïve, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams - and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it's the place they can't seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she's pregnant, Elsie can't help wondering where Bashkim's heart really lies, and what he'll do about the wife he left behind.

Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she's stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie - a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Huffington Post

In mordant, biting prose, [Xhenet Aliu] interweaves the stories of a mother and a daughter living in a fading Connecticut town they both hopelessly long to escape from

Publishers Weekly

Striking first novel ... This is a captivating, moving story of drastic measures, failed schemes, and the loss of innocence.

Booklist

Starred Review. Aliu has created a boldly witty and astute inquiry into the nature-versus-nurture debate, the inheritance of pain, and the dream of transcendence.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Aliu's riveting, sensitive work shines with warmth, clarity, and a generosity of spirit. Her characters are nuanced and real, capable of taking risks, making mistakes, and growing in unexpected ways. Aliu's writing is polished and precise, bringing her characters glowingly to life.

Author Blurb Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
A fierce, big-hearted, unflinching debut.

Author Blurb Cristina HenrĂ­quez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
Xhenet Aliu is ferociously talented. She's written a story so scathingly honest with characters so perfectly real, it left me breathless with admiration. There is no false sentiment here, no misplaced word, just a novel that pulses with a restless energy, a novel that pulses with life.

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