On sale Tuesday, July 11, 2017 from: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * Books-a-Million * iBooks

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 country

Raised 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.

UK & Commonwealth: 4th Estate/HarperCollins * Amazon UK

“Clemmons’ debut novel is a stunning work about growing up, losing your parents, and being an outsider. Perfect for fans of tangled immigrant stories like Americanah.”
“Zinzi Clemmons’ powerful debut novel tells the story of Thandi, a woman raised in Philadelphia who’s struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother, who left behind a complicated legacy of her own.”

“This hauntingly honest novel celebrates the coming-of-age tale of a young African-American woman who chooses to live vibrantly in the face of loss, adversity, and devastation. Promised to be one of the most influential new voices in fiction, Zinzi Clemmons is a must for any serious beach reader. This is 2017’s most raw literary display of female emotions.” 

“A stunning coming-of-age story. . . . Clemmons deftly explores this problem of feeling in-between, and how an absence of any distinct identity is its own difficult category of being. With lyrical prose, Clemmons offers up one of the best meditations on love, grief, and what it means to find yourself that we’ve come across in ages.”

“A stunning debut novel about a young African American woman and the kaleidoscope of identity.”
—Los Angeles Daily News

“Perfect for fans of Americanah, the much-anticipated debut from Clemmons unfolds through poignant vignettes and centers on the daughter of an immigrant. Raised in Philadelphia, Thandi is the daughter of a South African mother and an American father. Her identity is split, and when her mother dies, Thandi begins a moving, multidimensional exploration of grief and loss.”

“A big, brainy drama told by a fearless, funny young woman. . . . Prepare for Thandi’s voice to follow you from room to room long after you put this book away. A compelling exploration of race, migration, and womanhood in contemporary America.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Like debut author Clemmons, narrator Thandi is the Pennsylvania-grown daughter of a South African mother and an American father. In the novel, constructed of precise, charged vignettes, Thandi traces her parents’ history and her own upbringing; meanwhile, her strong-willed mother is dying of cancer. Thandi is left searching for meaning, and sorting through her scattered internal collage of experiences to piece together a cohesive racial and personal identity.”
—The Huffington Post

“Exacting reflections on race, mourning, and family. . . . Clemmons admirably balances the story’s myriad complicated themes.”
Publishers Weekly

“Penetratingly good and written in vivid still life, What We Lose reads like a guided tour through a melancholic Van Gogh exhibit—wonderfully chromatic, transfixing and bursting with emotion. Zinzi Clemmons’s debut novel signals the emergence of a voice that refuses to be ignored.”
—Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout

“An intimate narrative that often makes another life as believable as your own.”
—John Edgar Wideman, author of Writing to Save a Life

“The narrator of What We Lose navigates the many registers of grief, love and injustice, moving between the death of her mother and the birth of her son, as well as an America of blacks and whites and a South Africa of Coloreds. What an intricate mapping of inner and outer geographies! Clemmons’s prose is rhythmically exact and acutely moving. No experience is left unexamined or unimagined.”
—Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland

“Zinzi Clemmons’ first book heralds the work of a new writer with a true and lasting voice—one that is just right for our complicated millennium. Bright and filled with shadows, humor, and trenchant insights into what it means to have a heart divided by different cultures, What We Lose is a win, just right for the ages.”
—Hilton Als, author of White Girls

“I love how Zinzi Clemmons complicates identity in What We Lose. Her main character is both South African and American, privileged and outsider, driven by desire and gutted by grief. This is a piercingly beautiful first novel.”
—Danzy Senna, author of New People

“It takes a rare, gifted writer to make her readers look at day-to-day aspects of the world around them anew. Zinzi Clemmons is one such writer. What We Lose immerses us in a world of complex ideas and issues with ease. Clemmons imbues each aspect of this novel with clear, nuanced thinking and emotional heft. Part meditation on loss, part examination of identity as it relates to ethnicity, nationality, gender and class, and part intimate look at one woman’s coming of age, What We Lose announces a talented new voice in fiction.”
—Angela Flournoy, author of The Turner House

“Wise and tender and possessed of a fiercely insightful intimacy, What We Lose is a lyrical ode to the complexities of race, love, illness, parenthood, and the hairline fractures they leave behind.  Zinzi Clemmons has gifted the reader a rare and thoughtful emotional topography, a map to the mirror regions of their own heart.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

“Zinzi Clemmons pulls something off in What We Lose that I didn’t think was possible. She creates, in so many ways, a new form or new narrative structure necessarily to explore the creases in how gendered, raced and placed identities and desire are formed. But she doesn't stop there. What We Lose is as much about the desire to be delivered from memory and imagination as it is about love, motherhood, and death. Clemmons somehow crafts a book that feels familiar and wholly innovative. This searing novel is a marvel that might change how we write and think about love, loss, place, gender and race for decades to come.”
—Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division


Publicity Contact:
Olivia Taussig

Viking Books, Penguin Random House