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Luster
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Luster

A Novel

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?


Bookseller Recommendation

Luster

“Twenty-something Edie is struggling to find her place in the world. She's flailing, moving between jobs and out of her apartment, into her lover's home. But, she is the mistress, faced with the reality that the open relationship she entered isn't everything she thought - but it's the best she can find. As Edie's loyalties to her lover subside she really begins to find a home with his wife and daughter. Leilani examines intricate relationships, identity as an artist, and coming into your own in the complex, thrilling web that is Luster.”

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Description

An instant New York Times Bestseller A National IndieBestseller ALos Angeles Times Bestseller AWashington Post Bestseller

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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Testimonials


“Exacting, hilarious, and deadly . . . A writer of exhilarating freedom and daring.”

Zadie Smith, Author of Swing Time, White Teetch and many more.

“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 Vanishing Half

“An utterly strange and beautiful book, at once grab-your-gut visceral and the work of a razor-sharp intellect. The sentences are simply virtuosic. ”

C. Pam Zhang , Author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

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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 from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel.


Reviews

“So delicious that it feels illicit . . . Raven Leilani’s first novel reads like summer: sentences like ice that crackle or melt into a languorous drip; plot suddenly, wildly flying forward like a bike down a hill." ”

Jazmine Hughes , The New York Times Book Review

“[Raven Leilani] is a sharp phrasemaker . . . [and] Luster, a highly pleasurable interrogation of pleasure . . . There is more than a touch of Ralph Ellison here, the hypervisible invisible woman who is cast by the world in categorical terms while trying to be seen for herself. ”

Alexandra Schwartz , The New Yorker

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