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What to expect

Razor sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut.

‘A taut, sharp, funny book about being young now. It’s brutal–and brilliant.’ – Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth

‘A book of pure fineness, exceptional.’ – Diana Evans, Guardian

Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize
Shortlisted for the British Book Awards Fiction Debut of the Year
Longlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction

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.

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

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award.

‘A giddy joy, crafted with mischievous perfection.’ – Mail on Sunday

Critics Review

  • A taut, sharp, funny book about being young now. It’s brutal—and brilliant.

    Zadie Smith, author of Swing Time
  • 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 contemporary moment.

    Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation
  • Luster is entirely remarkable, and the most delicious novel I’ve read. I couldn’t get enough of Raven Leilani’s starkly accurate portrayal of the nuances of being a young woman today.

    Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie
  • A darkly funny, hilariously moving debut from a stunning new voice. 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 Vanishing Half
  • Luster is ridiculously good: gorgeous, dark, and funny, with sentences that’ll wreck you. I will follow this author anywhere she wants to take me.

    Carmen Maria Machado author of In the Dream 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 has made a truly lustrous piece of art.

    Mary Gaitskill, author of This Is Pleasure

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