presenting Luster: A Novel in conversation with BRIT BENNETT
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series and GrubStreet are thrilled to welcome debut author RAVEN LEILANI for a discussion of her novel Luster. She will be joined in conversation by BRIT BENNETT, author of the bestselling, award-winning novels The Mothers and The Vanishing Half. Her latest novel, The Vanishing Half, is available for purchase here.
Contribute to Support Harvard Book Store
While payment is not required, we are suggesting a $3 contribution to support this author series, our staff, and the future of Harvard Book Store—a locally owned, independently run Cambridge institution. In addition, by purchasing a copy of Luster on harvard.com, you support indie bookselling and the writing community during this difficult time.
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 twenties—sharing 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 marriage—with 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.
Praise for Luster
“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
“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
“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