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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

Winner of the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize for Best First Book
Winner of the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2021 Dylan Thomas Prize
Finalist for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel
Longlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
Longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Longlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

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

Sharp, comic, disruptive, and tender, 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)

"Leilani's radiant debut belongs to its brilliant, fully formed narrator. Old soul Edie has an otherworldly way of seeing the world and reflecting it back to readers, peppering experiences of past and current despair with acceptance and humor but never sacrificing depth, of which her story has miles. A must for seekers of strongly narrated, original fiction." (Booklist

“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)

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.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I am going to be looking for more books by the author… This book was simply amazing! I am technically an SDA I wonder if this made the book more interesting for me

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Ordinary life fragments become riveting

Loved this story and the images it evokes of an artist who seems a bit lost in life and finds shelter within a reluctant family. Characters reveal their needs cautiously, bonds form unexpectedly. Often I felt like I was reading a graphic novel because of how precise and evocative descriptions were.
I've recommended this novel to many people.

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Don’t read

This book is actually painful to read. I actually had to stop mid way through.

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Absolutely brilliant but somehow hollow

Ms. Leilani is obviously a brilliant writer, but the characters are all so detached and unemotional that the book has a way of leaving the reader with an unsettling emptiness. But perhaps that was the point?

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it glitters

witty rivetting suspenseful poetic charming carnal generous & tragicomic, charisma oozing from a page as from a painting. gritty and AUTHENTICALLY millenial.

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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.