What We Lose: A Novel - Zinzi Clemmons

This is the coming of age of Thandi, a woman who was raised in Pennsylvania with roots in South Africa. Never quite feeling like she belongs, Thandi is in search of love. Not in the romantic comedy sense; she is desperate to belong. She is a light-skinned black woman, therefore she doesn’t feel at home with black or white people. Having been raised in the States but born in Africa, she feels she doesn’t belong anywhere.


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, this debut novel hit me unexpectedly hard—it is exceptionally courageous. For example, one of my favorite passages:


<i>”When my lover and I fuck, we fuck with the fear of the world in us. We are fucking on the edge of a cliff. We are fucking death right in the ass, and death loves it. We are fucking our own deaths, and our mothers’ deaths, and the deaths of our friends and the deaths of our rights.”</i>


Wise and tender and achingly real, this examination of death and motherhood, country and brotherhood, is one not to be missed. A high-class literary treat. My highest recommendation.