Luster : A Novel by Raven Leilani


Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani’s debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else’s open marriage

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What Our Bookseller Says:

“By far the best book I’ve read all summer – Luster is in a league all its own.

Breathless, hilarious narration accentuates the themes Leilani explores: autonomy, casual violence, artistry, and self-preservation to name a few. It’s earnest, beautiful, urgent, sardonic, and captures the feelings of dangling-over-the-precipice that have epitomized my early twenties so far.

Our narrator Edie’s process of reckoning her art with her productivity and talent is achingly familiar, but what’s most striking is the accessibility of how Edie copes with trauma, loss, and marginalization. I was immediately engrossed by this story and this character, and couldn’t put the book down. i.e., Luster may be exactly what you need right now.”

– Julia

What the Publisher Says:

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 twentiessharing 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 marriagewith 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.

Luster : A Novel by Raven Leilani
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