A short, intense and profoundly moving debut novel about race, identity, sex and death – from one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35
Thandi is American, but not as American as some of her friends. She is South African, but South Africa terrifies her. She is a black woman with light skin.
Her mother is dying.
In exquisite vignettes of wry warmth and extraordinary emotional power, What We Lose tells Thandi’s story. Both raw and artful, minimal yet rich, it is an intimate portrait of love and loss, and a fierce meditation on race, sex, identity, and staying alive.
Reviews of What We Lose
- ‘The debut novel of the year … visceral, cerebral, provocative, elegiac. One can’t help but think of Clemmons as in the running to be the next-generation Claudia Rankine’ Vogue
- ‘Luminescent’ Independent
- ‘A lovely little headrush of a novel … if you enjoyed Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing then try this’ Sunday Times Style
- ‘Bracingly clear-eyed … the tension between her steady prose and turbulent emotions is beautifully sustained’ Daily Mail
- ‘Highly original. Zinzi Clemmons deftly explores grief, sex and identity’ Elle
- ‘Concise and powerful. This original and challenging debut is a must-read for fans of literary fiction and memoir’ Bookriot
- ‘Penetratingly good and written in vivid still life, What We Lose reads like a guided tour through a melancholic Van Gogh exhibit – wonderfully chromatic, transfixing and bursting with emotion. Zinzi Clemmons’s debut novel signals the emergence of a voice that refuses to be ignored’ Paul Beatty
- ‘What We Lose navigates the many registers of grief, love and injustice . . . acutely moving’ Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland
- ‘I loved this beautiful, honest and entrancing meditation on love, loss and the relationships that enrich and complicate our lives’ Bernardine Evaristo