• What We Lose

  • A Novel
  • By: Zinzi Clemmons
  • Narrated by: Nicole Lewis
  • Length: 3 hrs and 47 mins
  • 3.8 out of 5 stars (156 ratings)

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What We Lose  By  cover art

What We Lose

By: Zinzi Clemmons
Narrated by: Nicole Lewis
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Publisher's summary

Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, NPR, Elle, Esquire, Buzzfeed, San Francisco Chronicle, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, The Root, Harper’s Bazaar, Paste, Bustle, Kirkus Reviews, Electric Literature, LitHub, New York Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Bust

“The debut novel of the year.” (Vogue)

“Like so many stories of the black diaspora, What We Lose is an examination of haunting.” (Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker)

“Raw and ravishing, this novel pulses with vulnerability and shimmering anger.” (Nicole Dennis-Benn, O, the Oprah Magazine)

“Stunning...Powerfully moving and beautifully wrought, What We Lose reflects on family, love, loss, race, womanhood, and the places we feel home.” (Buzzfeed)

“Remember this name: Zinzi Clemmons. Long may she thrill us with exquisite works like What We Lose.... The book is a remarkable journey.” (Essence)

From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African-American woman coming of age - a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and country

Raised in Pennsylvania, Thandi views the world of her mother’s childhood in Johannesburg as both impossibly distant and ever present. She is an outsider wherever she goes, caught between being Black and White, American and not. She tries to connect these dislocated pieces of her life, and as her mother succumbs to cancer, Thandi searches for an anchor - someone, or something, to love.

In arresting and unsettling prose, we watch Thandi’s life unfold, from losing her mother and learning to live without the person who has most profoundly shaped her existence, to her own encounters with romance and unexpected motherhood. Through exquisite and emotional vignettes, Clemmons creates a stunning portrayal of what it means to choose to live, after loss. An elegiac distillation, at once intellectual and visceral, of a young woman’s understanding of absence and identity that spans continents and decades, What We Lose heralds the arrival of a virtuosic new voice in fiction.

©2017 Zinzi Clemmons (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

A National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree

NBCC John Leonard First Book Prize Finalist

Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalist

California Book Award First Fiction Finalist

Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Debut Novel Nominee

Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction & the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize

"A piercingly beautiful first novel." (Danzy Senna, author of New People)

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What listeners say about What We Lose

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Difficult to stay in the present

The flashbacks maybe in vogue but there was an excessive number of them. It was at times difficult to keep track of what was present and what was history. Obviously she was very affected by her mother's death and it impacted every aspect of her life but listening to the book may have made it more difficult to follow.

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