By Raven Leilani,

Book cover of Luster

Book description

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

WINNER of the NBCC John Leonard Prize, the Kirkus Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Luster as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

In the late 1990s I arrived in New York City to work in publishing. For a certain period of time my salary was so low and my luck so bad, I wound up homeless. This 2020 Kirkus Prize-winning debut novel of a twenty-something Black woman working in publishing and financially flailing felt familiar and real to me. She begins an affair with a white man who lives with his wife and their adopted Black daughter in New Jersey and after she loses her job, moves in with the couple. Her sentences dazzle with wit and psychological insight. Kirkus called it…

In Luster, Edie a disaffected Black woman in her twenties becomes entrenched in a S&M-tinged relationship with a white man in his forties in an open marriage. The plot is confrontational and the characterization all-consuming, and you want to read fast but the sentences—purposefully jammed to bursting with imagery—force you to slow down to absorb them. I’m a sucker for a smart woman who is nonetheless fixated on a flawed love interest, who thinks she sees herself clearly but maybe the reader knows different. 

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