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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller
Winner of the 2020 Kirkus Prize
Winner of the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

A Best Book of 2020
Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Town and Country, Amazon, Indigo, NPR, Harper’s Bazaar, Kirkus Reviews, Marie Claire

"Exacting, hilarious, and deadly... A writer of exhilarating freedom and daring." (Zadie Smith, Harper's Bazaar)

Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani's debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else's open marriage.

Edie is stumbling her way through her 20s - sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She's also, secretly, haltingly, figuring her way into life as an artist. 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 falling into Eric's family life, his home. She becomes a hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman who young Akila knows.

Razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make sense of her life 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.

©2020 Raven Leilani (P)2020 Bond Street Books

What the critics say

“Among the most exciting releases of 2020 - a lively, unforgettable coming-of-age story.... Leilani brings painterly precision to each stunning sentence, making for an exacting, darkly comic story of a gifted yet wayward young woman learning to believe in her own talent.” (Esquire.com)

“Narrated with fresh and wry jadedness, Edie’s every disappointment [is] rendered with a comic twist.... Edie’s life is a mess, her past is filled with sorrow, she’s wasting her precious youth, and yet, reading about it all is a whole lot of fun." (Chloe Schama, Vogue)

“An unstable ballet of race, sex, and power. Leilani’s characters act in ways that often defy explanation, and that is part of what makes them so alive, and so mesmerizing: Whose behavior, in real life, can be reduced to simple cause and effect? Sharp, strange, propellent - and a whole lot of fun.” (Kirkus, starred review)

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What listeners say about Luster

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Book but the Audiobook Skips Large Sections

I'm reading a physical copy while listening, and the audiobook skips the entire second half of Chapter 7, which would be highly confusing for anyone just following the audiobook. Will be returning the audiobook, but absolutely loved the story and narration.

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awful

Save your credit! The description of the book is markedly different from what happens. The story is extremely difficult to follow. I hated all the characters. There was absolutely nothing likeable about this story.