August 2020

Luster

by Raven Leilani

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Why We Chose It

Luster hooked us from the opening sex scene, fully clothed, between Edie, who is at work downtown, and Eric, who is at an office uptown. There are twenty-three years between Edie (the younger) and Eric. And from Eric’s message to her, Edie learns both that she has typos in her online profile and that apparently Eric has an open marriage. There are rules, of course. Which get tangled and untangled after Edie meets Rebecca, Eric’s wife, and their adopted daughter. This is a story about trying to be an artist, trying to get by, trying to grieve, trying to find pleasure, trying to love and be loved. It’s charged and hypnotic and poised to become one of the books that defines what it’s like to be young in this moment. Get your copy today: You can see all retailers selling the hardcover, e-book, and audio editions here.

Luster by Raven Leilani

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WATCH THE CHAT

Our chief content officer, Elise Loehnen, chatted with author Raven Leilani about her instant bestseller, art, intimacy, fandom, and unforgettable protagonists.

About the Author

Raven Leilani’s work has been published in Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Narrative, The 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. You can see and purchase Leilani’s paintings on her website.

RAVEN LEILANI

A Q&A with RAVEN LEILANI

When did the protagonist, Edie, come to you?

I knew I wanted to write about an artist. That creeps into my work—everything I write, there’s that preoccupation with art and what it means to pursue it and honestly what it means to fail in pursuit of it. I was also trying to write what I wanted to read. I wanted to read about a young Black woman who is allowed the latitude to mess up and make mistakes. To be able to create a character who gets to be angry, full of desire, perverse. That’s hugely important in creating a human character: talking about the dark parts, the grey parts, the uncomfortable parts—along with the joy. I wanted to write about what it’s like to be pulled along, to want so much, to seek human connection, to fumble through the dark as a lot of us have. But to try to tell it in a way that’s humane and honest about the process.

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