What We Lose

From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African American woman coming of age a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and countryRaised 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,From an author of rare, haunting power, a stunning novel about a young African American woman coming of age a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, family, and countryRaised 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.
What We Lose From an author of rare haunting power a stunning novel about a young African American woman coming of age a deeply felt meditation on race sex family and countryRaised in Pennsylvania Thandi vie

  • Title: What We Lose
  • Author: Zinzi Clemmons
  • ISBN: 9780735221710
  • Page: 444
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “What We Lose”

    1. I’ve often thought that being a light-skinned black woman is like being a well-dressed person who is also homeless. You may be able to pass in mainstream society, appearing acceptable to others, even desired. But in reality you have nowhere to rest, nowhere to feel safe. Even while you’re out in public, feeling fine and free, inside you cannot shake the feeling of rootlessness. Others may envy you, but this masks the fact that at night, there is nowhere safe for you, no place to call your ow [...]

    2. Sometimes there is no reason to write a review( so it feels) - to me. I mean if you finished a book - that you are somewhat neutral about - appreciate it - aware it’s thought provoking - has depth - deals with loss of a mother - and a father who emotionally distances himself - add struggling with racial/ cultural identity for a young African-AmericanAND.you notice over 500 people on have ‘already’ written a review —ANDYou look . a few reviews and discover GREAT - varied - REVIEWS FROM M [...]

    3. Albeit smart, intimate and well-written, these qualities aren't why I'll remember this novel : no, I'll remember What We Lose for its relatable depiction of grief, no matter how often I've wanted to stop reading. In this area of essays and important novels, when the representation of minorities in fiction is still so criminally inexistent, I love that this book exists, but looking back, that's not what I'll recall. The intense sense of dread I feel when I read about the loss of a parent, that I [...]

    4. !!! Book blog review: africanbookaddict/2017/07Laden with meditative, intimate and at times unsettling vignettes, What We Lose will leave you in a pensive state. Thandi – the heroine of this novel, is the only child of her mother (a coloured South African) and father (a light skinned African American) who is very aware of her privileges & multicultural background. Readers follow Thandi on her journey from childhood to adulthood as she navigates what it means to be a black woman in America [...]

    5. Throughout my life, coming-of-age novels peppered themselves onto bookshelves whenever I ventured. In these novels, heartbreak, love, loss, and joys scattered their footprints, asking me to grasp the main character's journey by finding similarity.Most of the time, they failed as they offered two hundred and more pages of a life I witnessed on television and movie matinees. Bottled in blonde ponytails and bouncy curl drenched in Prell shampoo, any hardships described on the page felt sweeter than [...]

    6. A very contemporary feeling book that tackles modern day themes but also about the past and how both have a habit of interesecting each other. Thandi tries to break the mould of living and honouring the past of her South African background and paving a new future. This book tackles race, tradition and it's implications in melding it with her life in America. Sometimes she is torn between the two worlds. I feel like the main issues that are tackled here are concerning race and grieving and she tr [...]

    7. I jumped on this one for a buddy read in the Newest Literary Fiction group. This was a quick read but a confusing one. I feel like the description led me to expect a pretty straight forward novel about a South African childhood and loss. Instead it reads like a braided essay in longform, a memoir of sorts, with attempts to pull in other information. But it also feels unfinished, with several more revisions needed to really make the transitions work, to bring the emotion in balance with the event [...]

    8. What We Lose is a weird little novel. Writing in the form of stream of consciousness. What We Lose is a different kind of book about loss and grief. I must admit I had trouble connecting with this book, maybe it was the stream of consciousness writing style or maybe it was the fact that the chapters moved back and forth through time. One chapter her mother's alive and in the very next chapter she's dead and then she's alive again. It was annoying and stopped me from fully connecting with the cha [...]

    9. When I read something like this my first thought is that it’s trying way too hard. Some chapters were a single line. Some were a picture or a chart. Some chapters were news articles of actual events in South Africa. Some were beautiful, some were bizarre, and some were just deliberately crude. I’m not saying that these things in themselves aren’t interesting or valuable, I’m just saying that they don’t belong together within a single 200-page book, let alone one with the word “NOVEL [...]

    10. (4.5 stars, rounded up)This novel is so beautiful and smart. I totally loved it. Here's my full review: chireviewofbooks/2017/07/

    11. I’ve written a full review of this novel elsewhere, but here I’d like to just say that anyone who has ever known loss should read this book. Clemmons captures grief so incredibly well on the page that it feels like your own pain put into words. Her experimental formatting and the gorgeous language she uses help, certainly, but this book really, more than anything else, is about losing a parent and the way the loss can unhinge a person even while their life continues to move and spin forward [...]

    12. This novel felt uneven and thin and overwrought to me, all at once. I found myself resenting the novel for trying to make me feel things that the prose couldn't deliver. The story followed predictable patterns--there was no surprise. The writing in some parts had the feel of a kludgy autobiography--for instance the careful way the author explains what "colored" means in South Africa. The author's tendency to over-explain at times felt like an annoying slip in diction, from intimate to formal and [...]

    13. Heartfelt account of a young woman's coming to self realization and dealing with her mother's death, a mother who was young and still had much in front of her, this reminded me at times of Cheryl Strayed's Wild. Clemmons fully expresses her loss in short vignettes, with splashes of surprising candor. They say everyone has at least one book in them based on experience. Let's hope there will be more from this young author.

    14. 3 stars (generously)I know this is not in following the group, but I must say that I am disappointed in this book. I know it has gotten a very high rating, but for me it is really just middle of the road.I did like the vignettes method of her writing. I thought this read quite like a memoir, which I enjoyed. However, it felt to me like the author did a lot of ruminating. I felt like I was her confidant, although I really did not know her. I was her stand-in for a best friend, whether I wanted to [...]

    15. How do you approach ‘best books of the year’ in your reading?I think it’s a complicated question and it takes a lot of time, consideration, refiguring and variables to answer it.I would submit What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons as one of the ‘best’ books I’ve read this year for one simple reason: it’s respectful of the person reading it and how this is pronounced is through the intelligent way it is constructed as a story.Let’s dismiss the racial or cultural aspects of the book and t [...]

    16. Friends, I wonder if my extremely high expectations and vague understanding of this novel set me up for an anticlimactic and frustrating reading experience. I truly wanted to love this book. I wanted (and still want) this book to succeed. Through a series of vignettes, Thandi describes and processes the death of her mother, what it means to lose someone (both familial and romantic) and her relationship to her mother's country- South Africa. A series of vignettes that presents itself as a novel c [...]

    17. When I started reading What We Lose, I thought it was a memoir. 50 pages in I happened to turn over the proof and noticed the words “a novel”, alongside realising that the author’s name was Zinzi, not Thandi. I had become so enraptured in the writing, I hadn’t for a second thought it wasn’t memoir. Thandi is such a fully realised person that I fully believed What We Lose was the story of her life, and a life that actually lived.What We Lose follows Thandi through the death of her mothe [...]

    18. 2,5/5Sometimes I really don't get the buzz, promo and high ratings surrounding a book. I do my very best, but I just don't see it. So, debut novel of the year? Really?If a novel is that fragmented, essayistic and autobiographical it needs to come across more fierce, engaging, poetic, insightful and original. Nope, in somewhat the same genre/topic read Adichie, Coates, Teju Cole, Another Brooklyn, Behold the dreamers instead. Or just dust of the Baldwin on your bookshelf

    19. 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 [...]

    20. 3 stars on the blog.I know you are all saying, "Huh?" How can it be five stars here and three stars on the blog? Well, this book has gotten quite a few one star ratings based solely on the fact that it is about African American culture and race relations; one reviewer said she is sick of all the "trendy" POC titles. Yeah, can you believe that? So, therefore, despite all of the mechanical problems I had with this book, it is getting five stars from me because of its message and the insight it pr [...]

    21. The latest in a string of high-profile minimalist "novel-in-vignettes," this is the kind of novel that feels like nonfiction. But in the best kind of way. You forget that you're reading about a character, because there's so little emphasis on plot and so much on internal development, that it genuinely feels like reading a diary or a set of stream-of-consciousness essays. More to come.

    22. Now nominated for the John Leonard Prize for Best First Book by the National Book Critics CircleThis book didn’t hurt, but it also didn’t do anything for me. A fragmented narrative in the style of a memoir about a young woman named Thandi who loses her mother to breast cancer and gives birth to her first child, this story is ripped apart by centrifugal forces – so duck down, reader, Clemmons’ free-flying ideas and ruminations might hit you in the head, and instead of an epiphany, you mig [...]

    23. Splendidly different. Is it a Novel? Vignettes? Memoir? Meditation on loss? Or as author Zinzi Clemmons calls it in her acknowledgments, a “weird little book.“ I say it is all of the above and the sum total adds up to a wonderful debut. This novel is one that defies categorization and that adds to its charm and it is structured quite differently than one normally finds in works defined as fiction. The book initially reads like a memoir, which is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact I believe [...]

    24. This book is gorgeous and readable and smart. It's totally outside the box, but not ever in a jarring or frustrating way. It's brief (just over 200 pages), which I love, but poignant. I don't want to say too much about the story itself because I think reading it without preconceptions makes for a remarkably engaging experience.

    25. [2.5 stars]Thanks to Edelweiss and Viking for an advanced copy of this book.This debut coming of age novel has been getting lots of pre-publication buzz, but it didn’t come together for me. It reads like a memoir and I actually double-checked that it was, in fact, a novel after I started reading. Clemmons shared brilliant and brilliantly worded commentary on terminal illness, grief, race, the violence in post-apartheid South Africa, and the cultural differences between her and her South Africa [...]

    26. Short and sweet chapters full of emotion and family. I only gave it 3 stars because it didn't appeal to me personally, but that doesn't mean it won't speak more to you.

    27. What we lose, what we miss, what we forget. A beautiful yet minimal lament about the death of a parent. This was more formally experimental than I was expecting and I loved it. What an exciting new talent! Read this book.

    28. This book is beautiful, tender, thoughtful--as well as thought-provoking, and heartbreaking. Thandi, a young woman is torn between races, between countries: her mother's home in South Africa and her family home is Pennsylvania.Clemmons portrays a touching picture of what it means to be Thandhi to struggle with identity when she suddenly forced to deal with the terrible illness and then death of her mother. Thandi's mother has been the most stabilizing force in her life.The impact of her mother's [...]

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