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Luster - Raven Leilani


By Raven Leilani

  • Release Date: 2020-08-04
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 3.5
From 362 Ratings


A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, O Magazine, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Shondaland, The New York Times Book Review, Boston Globe, Buzzfeed, Kirkus, Time, Good Housekeeping, InStyle, The Guardian, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Self, The New York Public Library, Town & Country, Wired,, Happy Mag, New Statesman, Vox, Shelf Awareness, Chatelaine, The Undefeated, Apartment Therapy, Brooklyn Based, The End of the World Review, Exile in Bookville, Lit Reactor, BookPage, i-D
A FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Barack Obama
A BEST BOOK FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS: AV Club, Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine/The Strategist, The Rumpus

WINNER of the NBCC John Leonard Prize, the Kirkus Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award


"So delicious that it feels illicit . . . Raven Leilani’s first novel reads like summer: sentences like ice that crackle or melt into a languorous drip; plot suddenly, wildly flying forward like a bike down a hill." —Jazmine Hughes, The New York Times Book Review

“An irreverent intergenerational tale of race and class that’s blisteringly smart and fan-yourself sexy.” —Michelle Hart, O: The Oprah Magazine

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.


  • It was okay

    By idreamofprada
    The author was a little too descriptive about EVERYTHING!!! The ending was not good in my opinion. It’s honestly about a young girl in her 20’s finding herself while staying with a married couple (she sleeps with the married man) and a adopted kid. It’s weird to me.
  • Nothing feels settled

    By Lanski12345
    I can’t tell if that’s a good or bad thing
  • 👍

    By Daniel s (and stefanie)
    Poetic and perceptive and so so darkly funny. I held by breath while reading many many times.
  • Disappointing

    By ygigrl
    Disappointing. I did not like the writers style. The main character was portrayed in such a dysfunctional manner. The language utilized was vulgar and unnecessary. The storyline was weak. Struggled to maintain interest. I gave up half way thru.
  • Rough read

    By AMQ:AMQ
    Felt obligated to finish bc I spent $15 on the download. I did not like the author’s writing style, the story, the characters or the ending.
  • Complicated but intriguing

    By KC197)
    Loved the writing, storyline complexed and dark but oh so good!
  • Under Developed Story Lines

    By AliW255
    Chose this book after it appeared on the Today Show. I found all the characters empty and tragic. Story lines started but never really felt complete. To much left to the imagination and blanks not filled in. On the last page I was left still trying to turn the page.
  • I love this book.

    By scox1129
    This book was like walking/sitting/being next to the main character on a tale that was a hell of a roller coaster. I loved every second. The author gave you back stage access to an artist’s mind and a woman’s heart. Actually 3 artist’s minds and 3 women’s hearts now that I think about it. I love this book.