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How We Fight For Our Lives
“This memoir by black and gay poet Saeed Jones is a visceral coming of age and coming out story. Growing up as an only child to his single mother in Texas and spending summers with his evangelical grandmother in Memphis, Jones struggles to come to terms with his sexuality, to come out of the closet, and to love himself. He wrestles with his fractured identity, learning what it means to be gay in the black community, to be black in the gay community, and to realize that either one on its own is enough to get you killed in a straight, white world. There are passages that will bruise and choke you, but ultimately both Jones and the reader come out of the book all the better for it.”Rachel,
The Book Table
“Saeed doesn't hold back any details, and his chapters often read like biographical poetry. This book is a window into a different life, and a different soul. It also makes a great listen.”Amy,
Bright Side Bookshop
“Saeed Jones does amazing transformative things with words. This stunning coming-of-age memoir is no exception. Prepare yourself for intense vulnerability as he fights to find and take up space as a Black gay man growing up in the American South.”Zinna,
A Great Good Place for Books
“Saeed Jones is supremely talented, so I expected his memoir to be great. I did NOT expect, however, to be left immobile in my chair after reading that final paragraph, processing the beauty of his words and those indelible sentences he’s generous enough to share with us. How We Fight for Our Lives is a moving and intimate portrait of the writer growing up as a young, gay black man and trying to understand the complex realities of his identity. We also gain insight to Jones’ relationship with his mother, a story that left me in pieces by the end. How We Fight for Our Lives is raw, difficult, and truthful, and completely stuffed with love.”Eugenia Vela,
From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives—winner of the Kirkus Prize and the Stonewall Book Award—is a “moving, bracingly honest memoir” (The New York Times Book Review) written at the crossroads of sex, race, and power.
One of the best books of the year as selected by The New York Times; The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; Elle; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; and many more.
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful—a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
Saeed Jones is the author of Prelude to Bruise, winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The poetry collection was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as awards from Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle in 2015. Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. He earned a BA at Western Kentucky University and an MFA at Rutgers University-Newark. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, and tweets @TheFerocity.