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Publisher's Summary

From award-winning poet Saeed Jones, How We Fight for Our Lives - winner of the Kirkus Prize and the Stonewall Book Award - is a “moving, bracingly honest memoir” (The New York Times Book Review) written at the crossroads of sex, race, and power.

One of the best books of the year as selected by The New York Times; The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; Elle; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; and many more. 

“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”

Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, Black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws listeners into his boyhood and adolescence - into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another - and to one another - as we fight to become ourselves.

An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful - a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and an audiobook that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.

©2019 Saeed Jones (P)2019 Simon & Schuster Audio

Critic Reviews

"Listeners gain an intimate sense of Saeed Jones's life through vignettes he presents with grace, compassion, and ferocity.... Jones narrates unflinchingly through early curiosity about his sexuality, homophobia from family and community, and damaging sexual encounters. While he's skilled at creating voices for everyone in his audiobook, certain voices - taunting slurs, crazed declarations of violence - are particularly chilling. Through his dynamic narration, listeners will feel as though they are sharing intense confidences and moments of joy with a close friend." (AudioFile magazine)

Featured Article: The Best LGBTQIA+ Listens by Queer Authors


Inclusivity and representation has always been, and continues to be, one of the most important and positive aspects of literature. Unfortunately, listeners on the hunt for the best LGBTQIA+ books out there knows that finding stories about gay characters isn’t always the easiest. So, we’ve put together a series of lists detailing some of the best LGBTQIA+ listens available, from lesbian works to bisexual listens to trans stories. Discover some of the best.

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What listeners say about How We Fight for Our Lives

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Spectacular

An honest, poignant, relatable, heartwarming story.
Saeed shared his soul with us- so much so that this 60+ white woman experienced what the world of a black gay man could teach.
Thank you Saeed and thank you To the strong, powerful women in your life.

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This guy can write (and read)

Very nice flow and the narration carries you along. I hope that Mr. Jones keeps fighting for his life because I'm pretty sure that he will have a lot more to say.

Readers who have a 'do I really want to be reading about this?' moment at any point in the book... should persevere. Well worth it.

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Beautiful story and narration

I loved this! It’s lyrical and wonderfully honest. I appreciate the vulnerability displayed by the author.

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Very Enjoyable

I really loved the story. The author's prospective was open and honest. I wanted the story to continue. Like, what happened with Emma!

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A Great Reality Check

I heard about this memoir from an interview on NPR with Saeed Jones. After listening to it, it really hit home. As a minority and part of the LGBTQ community, I knew exactly where the author was coming from. I highly recommend for everyone because it gives you a glimpse of how many minority groups feel in our society. Great listen!

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A sweet memoir

This is a well-written addition to books about Black gay experience, and mother and son relationships.

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Touching. Honest. Revealing....F**ing Stunning.

I have never read a book in one day! I am eternally grateful to finally see myself in a work displaying the many complexities and beauties of the soul.

Unflinchingly honest! A memoir that hits you with so many different emotions. I rode it like a wave back to the depths of myself.

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Wonderful

A great way to experience this beautiful, courageous work, in the author’s own voice. So touched by the bravery and vulnerability in this clear, easy to read memoir full of hard truths. The author’s voice and writing are engaging, funny, and poignant. Highly recommend.

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Visceral, stunning

I loved this book and Saeed's reading of it. Beautiful writing and structure. Highly recommend!

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Beautifully lyrical and relatable

You can tell the author is a poet because the prose of this memoir is so wonderfully poetic. The words sing as the author reads excerpts of his own life aloud. His performance is less amazing; there are times you can hear awkward pauses or stumbling over words. Still, I think there's something special in experiencing something so personal read by the person that lived it. I share experiences, a city, and a school with this author, but think anyone can relate to the emotional truth in the story.