A short, intense and profoundly moving debut novel about race, identity, sex and death.
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.
"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)
"Wise and tender and possessed of a fiercely insightful intimacy, What We Lose is a lyrical ode to the complexities of race, love, illness, parenthood, and the hairline fractures they leave behind. Zinzi Clemmons has gifted the reader a rare and thoughtful emotional topography, a map to the mirror regions of their own heart." (Alexandra Kleeman)
"I love how Zinzi Clemmons complicates identity in What We Lose. Her main character is both South African and American, privileged and outsider, driven by desire and gutted by grief. This is a piercingly beautiful first novel." (Danzy Senna)
"An intimate narrative that often makes another life as believable as your own." (John Edgar Wideman)
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