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.

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7.7

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All Reviews

Critic Reviews (16)

7.7
Weighted Avg. Adjusted by the addition of a statistical value.
Critic Score Distribution
Highest score:
Lowest score:
Average score:
10.0
6.0
8.5
  1. Positive: 14 Out of 16
  1. Mixed: 2 Out of 16
  1. Negative: 0 Out of 16
Critical Consensus: Good.
1

Cody's Bookshelf

17 Nov 2017
"A brutally honest rumination on race, sex, grief, and family, this short novel is written in searing, white hot language. Zinzi Clemmons’s prose is divine. Emotionally honest at its core..." ...
1

Reading Envy

11 Sep 2017
6.0
"It reads more like a summary much of the time, an overview, rather than a series of events that come together for an actual story." ...
1

The New York Times

08 Sep 2017
9.0
"The book’s distinctive form and voice give it an unusual capacity to show how individuals connect deep feeling to broad political understanding — an experience too rarely rendered in fiction." ...
1

Chicago Review of Book

12 Jul 2017
9.0
"Clemmons’s prose is sharp, and though the book is slim, it’s a rich novel with more depth and innovation than many novels double its length." ...
3

African Book Addict

11 Jun 2017
8.0
"This coming-of-age novel reminds you that we are all human. We are all dealing with our personal struggles. We are all trying to thrive and heal and survive." ...
2

Paperback Paris

17 Aug 2017
8.0
"Seamed handsomely through a trilogy of anecdotes and pointing observations on class before race, on the agency of relationships and their broken promises, Clemmons’ debut novel obliterates expectations from all sides." ...

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SIMILAR Books

Published:

July 11, 2017

Publisher:

Viking

ISBN:

978-0-735-22171-0

Language:

English

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