Luster: A Novel (Hardcover)

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One of the Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020
Vogue, Elle, Time, The New York Times, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vulture, Parade, USA Today, Literary Hub, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Refinery29, The Rumpus, Book Riot, Thrilllist, Domino, PopSugar, New York Amsterdam News, Bookshop.org

“Exacting, hilarious, and deadly . . . A writer of exhilarating freedom and daring.”
—Zadie Smith, Harper’s Bazaar

"Impossible to put down.” —Ling Ma, author of Severance

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.

About the Author


Raven Leilani’s work has been published in Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Narrative, Yale Review,Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. She won Narrative’s Ninth Annual Poetry Contest and the Matt Clark Editor’s Choice Prize, as well as short fiction prizes from Bat City Review and Blue Earth Review. Luster is her first novel.

Praise For…


One of the Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020
Vogue, Elle, Time, The New York Times, Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vulture, Parade, USA Today, Literary Hub, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Refinery29, The Rumpus, Book Riot, Thrilllist, Domino, PopSugar, New York Amsterdam News, Bookshop.org


“The most thrilling thing I’ve read in months.”
—Stephanie Danler on Instagram

"Sexy, dark, truly funny. This book is on fire."
Emma Straub on Instagram

“Exacting, hilarious, and deadly . . . A writer of exhilarating freedom and daring.”
—Zadie Smith, Harper’s Bazaar

“Among the most exciting releases of 2020—a lively, unforgettable coming-of-age story . . . Leilani brings painterly precision to each stunning sentence, making for an exacting, darkly comic story of a gifted yet wayward young woman learning to believe in her own talent.”
Esquire.com

“Narrated with fresh and wry jadedness, Edie’s every disappointment [is] rendered with a comic twist . . . Edie’s life is a mess, her past is filled with sorrow, she’s wasting her precious youth, and yet, reading about it all is a whole lot of fun.”
—Chloe Schama, Vogue

"Sometimes, on very rare occasions, you read a debut novel with a narrative voice that is so assured, so confident, so astute, and so devastatingly funny, it leaves you reeling . . . Leilani’s brutally accurate observations and rapier wit make this novel a singular, mordant delight. I know it’s a cliché, but I really cannot recommend this book highly enough."
—Tomi Obaro, Buzzfeed News

"Darkly funny with wicked insight . . . This keenly observed, dynamic debut is so cutting, it almost stings."
—Lauren Puckett, Elle

“An unstable ballet of race, sex, and power. Leilani’s characters act in ways that often defy explanation, and that is part of what makes them so alive, and so mesmerizing: Whose behavior, in real life, can be reduced to simple cause and effect? Sharp, strange, propellent—and a whole lot of fun.”
Kirkus, starred review

“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 Mothers

“Raven Leilani's sentences pulse and writhe and shimmer and gut-punch. Above all they tell the truth, even when it hurts.”
—Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House

“The narrative voice of this startling novel is layered, complex, pitch-black comic, and deadly earnest, even ardent in its will to sift through the chaos and idiocy of our madhouse culture and find some glimpse of human reality. Raven Leilani is intellectually supple and steely at the same time; she thinks and perceives blessedly outside any kind of norm. She has made a truly lustrous piece of art.”
—Mary Gaitskill, author of This Is Pleasure

"An utterly strange and beautiful book that is both very visceral and very intellectual, about a young black woman trying to find her artistic identity."
—C. Pam Zhang, The Rumpus

“Hilarious, honest, bursting with desire and sharp insight, Luster is absolutely captivating. I didn’t so much read it, as gulp it down. There’s so much to learn here, so much to admire. Leilani is an irreverent, impeccable stylist—a voice we need right now.”
—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

“A beguiling fever dream of a novel, shot through with wistfulness, humor, and a kind of breathless, furious verve. You’ll find it impossible to put down.”
—Ling Ma, author of Severance

“Raven Leilani is a writer of unusual daring, with a voice that is unique and fully formed. There is humor, intelligence, emotion, and power in her work. I cannot think of a writer better suited to capture our moment.”
—Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation

“In Luster, Raven Leilani has created a character unlike any other in recent fiction. A slacker black queen, a depressive painter, a damn funny woman. The narrator of this novel tells us of her history and her present life in hypnotic language that is a pleasure to read. Leilani is such a talented writer, I rushed to the end of every outrageous sentence to figure out how she would pull it off.”
—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman

"A coming-of-age story that’s sure to keep you turning pages."
—Stephanie Long, Refinery29



Product Details
ISBN: 9780374194321
ISBN-10: 0374194327
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: August 4th, 2020
Pages: 240