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Luster

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  81,170 ratings  ·  10,673 reviews
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white middle-aged archi ...more
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published August 4th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Janelle I'm also finding the timeline confusing (though I'm writing this as I'm still in the early stages of reading). So far, she's said:
- she's 23 years old…more
I'm also finding the timeline confusing (though I'm writing this as I'm still in the early stages of reading). So far, she's said:
- she's 23 years old
- there are 23 years between her and Eric
- Eric was born 3 years before 1977, so 1974
which would suggest that she was born in in 1997.
- it's been 2 years since there was a Black president, which makes the book set at least in 2018.
- She mentions also being 21 2 years ago, but if it's 2018, that would make her having been born in 1995?
- Also, if she is 23 in the book's present-day, and Eric was born in 1974, and he is also 23 years older than her, then the present day is 2020.

On top of all that, she refers to searching for the samples of a song 2003-2006, which feels like pretty precocious behavior for an 6 or 8 year old. She also mentions receiving a VHS of Spice World when she was 5. Spice World came out in 1997, and VHS was on the decline by 2002, though it's not totally outlandish claim.

Plus, her 3 years of professional publishing experience seems misaligned, though not impossible, with her age at 23. This is without me trying to parse references to Gen Z.

I am being very pedantic here but there are some clear discrepancies. (less)
Ann J Kind of. I threw it on the Kindle because of a blurb maybe in the NYT? I liked the writing style, but found the characters pretty flat and after a whi…moreKind of. I threw it on the Kindle because of a blurb maybe in the NYT? I liked the writing style, but found the characters pretty flat and after a while, all the adults just seemed like terrible people wandering around in circles neglecting a child. And in that respect, I found the book not very believable, not very enjoyable, but occasionally there were little flashes of insight or humor or a nice turn of phrase. I only continued reading because I was 75% done, and thought the best part of the book was honestly the last 5 pages. Had it been 50 pages longer, I probably would have put it down.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  81,170 ratings  ·  10,673 reviews


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Emily May
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, contemporary, arc
Luster seems to be getting rave reviews across the board, but I found the "beautiful" and "evocative" writing actually quite painful to read.

The book is a very cold, detached account of a young woman's relationship with an older man and his wife. Some people have been favorably comparing this to Queenie, even going so far as to claim it is a better-written version, but this is really not my idea of good writing. Edie narrates like she's trying oh so very hard for her Creative Writing 101 class,
...more
Roxane
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m really glad my twenties are over.

ETA: This is an incredible debut. So uncomfortable and stressful and beautiful and haunting and honest and ugly.
Kat
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
it’s not overhyped. that’s it, that’s the review.
Debbie
The book and I head to Couples Counseling

God how I loved it when this book and I started dating. But truth be told, I was against the whole thing at first. My friend, NetGalley, accidentally set us up. I was irritated, since I hadn’t requested the date. But then I decided I might as well just go ahead and meet. Her profile sounded pretty cool. And she was just my type—literary fiction.

It was love at first sight. It was all flying and jumping and dancing and pushing great sighs. Don’t we all love
...more
Michelle
Sep 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
My opinion of this book will not be popular.

I hated it.

And that is my short but not so sweet review. At least it was an Overdrive loan. 1 star!
emma
This book made me feel so anxious and so depressed that it took me approximately 6 times as long as expected to finish.

That's a compliment, I'm pretty sure.

I mean, books make me anxious often, and life makes me depressed frequently, but one piece of content doing BOTH?

Impressive.

Erin said that this is "mean spirited, funny, brutally smart, and sad," and once I saw that I immediately started reading it. After all, I'M mean spirited and sad and constantly trying to convey those into a brutally sma
...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was the contradiction that would define me for years, my attempt to secure undiluted solitude and my swift betrayal of this effort once in the spotlight of an interested man. I was pretending not to worry about the consequences of my isolation. But whenever I talked to anyone, I found myself overcompensating for the atrophy of my social muscles.
Edie is mostly alone in the world. A 23 year-old black orphan trying to be seen, to be found, while trying to find herself as well. She may not
...more
Elyse Walters
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow....
...no-holds-barred....
...untrammeled....
...unhindered....
...unconstrained....
...rampant, raw, incorrigible....
...A TRULY ADDICTIVE READ!!!!!

It’s 3:40 am.... I literally just finished it....a one sitting middle of the night gulp...( all 227 pages).

A buzz book for 2020?/!
I sure think so!!!!
I’m incredibly impress by Raven Leilani.

“Luster” is a first novel, and I’m already looking forward to her next book.

Edie, in her 20’s, is a black woman... an artist from Bushwick. She’s frosty,
...more
Ashley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
mwana
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To invite admiration or ridicule, you have to first be seen.
This is the most brilliant book I've ever hated.

All reviews are raving about this book. It's certainly praiseworthy prose but goddamn it made me cringe. And Edie is right, to invite any sort of opinion on your person, you have to be noticed and boy is this book noticeable.

I haven't been so uncomfortable since I read Cat Person and that was, fortunately, a short story. If I was to pick any lesson from this story I'd just sta
...more
Miranda Reads
description

Just published my November Reading vlog!
The Written Review

So....I went into this one with so much excitement.

I was READY for some dark humor. And there were so many 5 stars!

I'm really wondering... did I read the same book as everyone else...?

Cause gosh, this was the first time I read a dark humor book where I didn't find a single thing funny.

This was miserable to read for me.

I just...am I the only one?

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
...more
Meike
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
Now Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021
Raven Leilani's debut novel is a spectacular examination of loneliness and the wish to belong. 23-year-old Edie is adrift: After making some inappropriate sexual choices, she loses her admin job in the publishing industry and finds herself with nowhere to go - until the wife of her married lover takes her in. Edie now witnesses their unhappy marriage first-hand, and she slowly becomes the only confidante of their adoptive daughter Akila who, until then, h
...more
Erin
Giveaway win!

OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!

I love this book!

Luster is everything.

Its mean spirited, funny, brutally smart, and sad. Raven Leilani's writing reminds me of Gillian Flynn. Like Flynn, Leilani's writing is sharp and raw. Both women write complex and unlikeable women so well.

Luster is about Edie a young 23 year old black woman who is lost and lonely. She makes terrible life decisions but she's fully aware of it but she just can't seem to stop.

She meets Eric a middle agef white man,who let'
...more
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)
| | blog | tumblr | ko-fi | |

4 ½ stars (rounded up since this is a debut)

“I think to myself, You are a desirable woman. You are not a dozen gerbils in a skin casing.”


Luster is a deliriously enthralling and boldly subversive debut novel. I was dazzled by the author’s prose, which is by turns dense and supple, by Edie’s sardonic and penetrating narration, and by the story’s caustic yet searing commentary on race, class, gender, and sexuality.

“It is that it is 8:15 a.m. and I feel happy. I am
...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s good, it’s excellent, it’s remarkable! OMG! I couldn’t expect to love Edie so much! For a long time I haven’t connected with a character and heard her from deep in my heart.

This book is the real proof that no matter what is your gender, age, socioeconomic status, nationality, profession, choice, experience, you may truly feel like a complete f*cked up by losing your entire path or feel like you turned your life into a real mess! You may feel lost, confused, stand at the shaky ground, walk
...more
Thomas
A honest portrayal of a 23-year-old Black woman struggling to claim herself amidst falling into a white couple’s open marriage. Raven Leilani’s tone in this novel is wry and sharp. She’s unafraid of showing the messiness and pain in her protagonist’s life, whether that pain comes from racism and sexism or family dynamics gone awry.

I struggled to connect with Edie, our main character, I think because of Leilani’s writing style. The writing in Luster felt jagged to me, with lots of sentences that
...more
Barbara
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
“Luster” by debut novelist Raven Leilani has received a load of press. Its basic press push is a young black woman getting involved in an open marriage of white people. That premise did not interest me, but all the press…. all the press…I decided to read it myself. Well, there are so many complications involved in this black woman’s life that those complications murk’s the premise.

The story is told in narrative form from Edie, our millennial protagonist who is not likable, is a disturbing charac
...more
fatma
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thanks so much to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an e-ARC of this via NetGalley!

I feel like Luster is another installment in a series of books that I'm gonna call Dysfunctional Women Being Dysfunctional—which theoretically, I'm all for, but in actuality I've been disappointed by more often than not, this novel included.

Luster is Leilani's debut book, and there are definitely glimmers of sharp, wry writing to be found here. One of my favourites: "In the time we have been talking,
...more
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Lately, I seem to be interested in stories of the messiness, and complex lives of the characters, and this one does that and does it well. Messy is what our troubled 23-year-old main character Edie is. After losing her job, she moves in with her white older lover, his wife and their adopted black daughter. I won't get into the messiness of all that and leave that for the story.

Raven Leilani boldly and bravely creates a distinct POV with Edie, a black woman who is trying to find herself while se
...more
Jaidee
2 "I will keep the faith despite finding this to be a H.M !" stars !!!

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and both Random House Canada and Farrar Strauss & Giroux.
This was released in August 2020 and I am providing my honest review.

I will start by saying that the author appears superbly bright and talented and so giving this book only two stars is a bit uncomfortable but honest.....I generally did not like this and found it highly problematic in both psychological congruency, emotional impact a
...more
Brandice
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lonely is the word that comes to mind when I think of Luster — The characters are lonely and wanting more.

23 year old Edie begins a relationship with an older married man, Eric Walker. She loses her job in publishing due to citations of inappropriate behavior then gets kicked out of her apartment for failure to pay rent. Following an unexpected encounter, Eric’s wife, Rebecca, takes her in.

Edie becomes engrained in the Walker family: continuing to slyly see Eric, accompanying Rebecca to work wh
...more
Susanne
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
MOUTH AGAPE: I listened to “Luster” in shock, in awe, and sometimes, admittedly, in horror. In short, I was completely TRANSFIXED.

“Luster” is addictive, complicated, depressing, dirty, honest, messy, raw, real, sad, and uncomfortable.

There is nothing sweet or simple here.

Life for Edie, the main character, is complex and difficult and she does what she has to do to scrape by, regardless of how she is viewed.

Alone and/or lonely, Edie survives somehow, some way. In ways, perhaps that you or
...more
Adam Dalva
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book, think about it often, and am excited to teach it in the spring.

My interview with Leilani for Brooklyn's Community bookstore is here - I had a wonderful time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPSe0...
...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest


LUSTER is a fascinating novel and even though I didn't love it, I really liked it for what it was trying to do. Not only is it a commentary on Blackness, it is also a scathing criticism of the economy that millennials have inherited. I also interpreted it as saying that nostalgia culture is a way for millennials to return to thoughts of happier, safer times, and even that attraction to older men is more of an attraction to an aspirationa
...more
Katie B
An impressive debut novel. I'm actually ticked off this book was left off the final voting round for the Goodreads Choice Awards. Hands down, one of the best written novels I read this year. There was a seamless flow to the words and despite the fact this book is rather short at just over 200 pages, you feel like the author made the most out of every single word on the page.

There was just something about this character that grabbed ahold of me and wouldn't let go. The reading experience was int
...more
Lucy Dacus
Jul 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow.
Emily B
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A debut worth reading!

This is my kind of writing, sometimes uncomfortable but totally raw and honest.
I enjoyed reading about Edies messy life and painful existence and I look forward to more from this author.

‘I think of how keenly I've been wrong. I think of all the gods I have made out of feeble men’
...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Sometimes I have wished I could step inside the pages of a book and become for a time a character in the story. It would be fun and exciting to live in the world inhabited by these characters. However, in the book, Luster, I would never want to be a single one of these characters. They were all lost in the quagmire of their lives. Hurt, unsure, depressed, and morose might be apt adjectives for the four characters. Yet, while this was a sad, pessimistic story, it was one that quickly became fasci ...more
Jessica Woodbury
When I think about how to describe this novel, I keep coming back to the same phrase: fever dream. It isn't realist, exactly. It isn't surrealist, exactly. It's somewhere between the two, some weird swirled mix of hyper-reality and not-exactly-reality that leaves you just enough off kilter that you never know which way it's going to go next. It's unique and weird and bold.

At first Edie will remind you of other self-destructive young women you've seen in other literary novels. She is aimless and
...more
Mari
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Why you may not like this book: This is 240 pages of cringe, honestly. I mean, it's a lot more than that. I'm being reductive because the make or break element to these sorts of slice-of-life train wreck stories is whether or not your can personally tolerate the type of cringe and whether or not you still sympathize and empathize with the main character as they make wild and bad decisions. My handiest comparison is Fleabag, though that had even more room for bright spots and a bit of a turn-arou ...more
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Play Book Tag: Luster by Raven Leilani / 3 stars 6 22 Nov 17, 2021 10:39AM  
The Mookse and th...: 2021 Women's Prize - Luster 17 82 Mar 18, 2021 01:46PM  
Go Fug Yourself B...: Luster is our June Book 5 30 Mar 16, 2021 10:40AM  
Tournament of Books: Luster 59 199 Feb 25, 2021 11:22AM  

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Raven's debut novel, Luster, is forthcoming from FSG August 2020. Her work has been published in Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Narrative, Yale Review, Conjunctions, The Cut, and New England Review, among other publications. She completed her MFA at NYU. ...more

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