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Join us in person on Thursday, November 10 at 7 PM as Namwali Serpell talks about her new novel, The Furrows. This is our October First Editions Club Selection. She will be joined in conversation by Andrew Leland.
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Vulture, Lit Hub, Electric Lit, BookPage
I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.
Cassandra Williams is twelve; her little brother, Wayne, is seven. One day, when they’re alone together, there is an accident and Wayne is lost forever. His body is never recovered. The missing boy cleaves the family with doubt. Their father leaves, starts another family elsewhere. But their mother can’t give up hope and launches an organization dedicated to missing children.
As C grows older, she sees her brother everywhere: in bistros, airplane aisles, subway cars. Here is her brother’s face, the light in his eyes, the way he seems to recognize her, too. But it can’t be, of course. Or can it? Then one day, in another accident, C meets a man both mysterious and familiar, a man who is also searching for someone and for his own place in the world. His name is Wayne.
Namwali Serpell’s remarkable new novel captures the uncanny experience of grief, the way the past breaks over the present like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a story of mistaken identity, double consciousness, and the wishful—and sometimes willful—longing for reunion with those we’ve lost.
Namwali Serpell was born in Lusaka, Zambia, and lives in New York. She received a 2020 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, and a 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, and the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; it was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review and one of Time magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of the Year. Her nonfiction book, Stranger Faces, was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. She is currently a professor of English at Harvard.
Andrew Leland’s first book, The Country of the Blind: a Memoir at the End of Sight, will be published by Penguin Press in summer 2023. His writing has recently appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker (online), Art in America, and McSweeney’s Quarterly. From 2013-2019, he hosted and produced the Organist, an arts-and-culture podcast, for KCRW; he has also contributed to Radiolab and 99 Percent Invisible. An editor at the Believer since 2003, he lives in Northampton.
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