Raven Leilani presents "Luster," with Adam Dalva

October 21, 2020, 7:30 PM

Raven Leilani joins us to present her new novel, Luster, in conversation with Adam Dalva. This program will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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

No one wants what no one wants.
And how do we even know what we want? How do we know we’re ready to take it?

Edie is stumbling her way through her twentiessharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She is also haltingly, fitfully giving heat and air to the art that simmers inside her. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriagewith rules.

As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and invited into Eric’s home—though not by Eric. She becomes a hesitant ally to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie may be the only Black woman young Akila knows.

Irresistibly unruly and strikingly beautiful, razor-sharp and slyly comic, sexually charged and utterly absorbing, Raven Leilani’s Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make sense of her life—her hunger, her anger—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.

Raven Leilani’s work has been published in GrantaThe Yale ReviewMcSweeney’s Quarterly ConcernConjunctionsThe Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA from NYU and was an Axinn Foundation Writer-in-Residence. Luster is her first novel.

Adam Dalva’s writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Tin House, and The Guardian. He teaches Creative Writing at Rutgers University and Marymount Manhattan College and is a book critic for Guernica Magazine. Adam has received writing fellowships from the Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. He is a graduate of NYU's MFA Program, where he was a Veterans Writing Workshop Fellow. Adam's graphic novel, OLIVIA TWIST, was published by Dark Horse in 2019.