Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021
Longlisted for the Women's Prize For Fiction 2021
‘A book of pure fineness, exceptional.’ – Diana Evans, Guardian
'A taut, sharp, funny book about being young now. It's brutal—and brilliant.' - Zadie Smith
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.
Razor-sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Guardian, New York Times, New Yorker, Boston Globe, Literary Hub, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Time, Good Housekeeping, InStyle, NPR, O Magazine, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Town & Country, Wired, New Statesman, Vox, Shelf Awareness, i-D, BookPage and more.
One of Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2020
Leilani’s story of Edie, a broke 23-year-old black woman who gets involved with a wealthy older white couple, cuts to the quick of the often grim realities of being young and black in the US today. But it’s wincingly funny, too . . . Leilani’s prose mesmerises; you go with her, wherever she decides to take you . . . A remarkable portrait of the artist as a young woman.
[Leilani] is a caustic, funny and skilful storyteller, taking us deeply and convincingly inside the head of a millennial woman frantically trying to make sense of the world and her place within it.
In this cutting, hot-blooded book, the entanglements that unfold are as complicated as they are heartbreaking.