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    An Evening with Zinzi Clemmons

    Author of "What We Lose"

    When: Thursday, 11/2/2017 8:00 PM

    Where: Freidenrich Conference Center (Bldg F) 4th Floor

    This event is part of the Crossing Boundaries series.

    Special offer: Purchase tickets to the three remaining events in the series and get 20% off! 

    Add all three events to your cart and the discount will automatically be applied at the time of checkout. 


    Join us for a thoughtful conversation with Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose, which Vogue calls "the debut novel of the year".

    Zinzi Clemmons was raised in Philadelphia by a South African mother and an American father. She is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities, and her writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All Story, The Paris Review Daily, Transition, and elsewhere. She is a cofounder and former publisher of Apogee Journal and a contributing editor to Literary Hub. She has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Dar al-Ma'mûn, Morocco. Clemmons lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

    What We Lose is a powerful and innovative novel that questions the nature of identity, grief and love through the eyes of a young woman who loses her mother to cancer. Told in visceral vignettes that draw from autofiction, online media and encyclopedias, What We Lose is a thoughtful, poignant debut from a promising new voice.

    Clemmons intersperses the narrative with photography, text messages, excerpts from blogs and newspaper articles; the effect is by turn playful and haunting. The primary sources create intimate and sprawling connections between the reader, the main character and the novel's larger questions: about the construct of race, injustice within social systems, the durability of love and the ability to overcome grief. In this way What We Lose confronts the horrors and the legacy of apartheid, and the tyranny of race in the personal and political realms. 

    The meditations in What We Lose are deeply felt, not least because its themes are informed by the author's personal experiences. The breadth and skill Zinzi Clemmons demonstrates in this slim, penetrating novel—praised by early readers from John Edgar Wideman, to Angela Flournoy, to Alexandra Kleeman—establish her as a writer to watch.

    Named a summer 2017 recommended read by The New York Times, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Elle, The Millions, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Nylon, Houston Chronicle, Redbook and Time.

    This event will be moderated by Faith Adiele (www.adiele.com), the daughter of a Nigerian father and Nordic-American mother. The PBS documentary My Journey Home is about traveling to West Africa to find her father and siblings. A graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers Workshop, she is co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology and author of two memoirs, The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems and Meeting Faith, which won the PEN Open Book Award. She lives in Oakland, where she is founder of the African Book Club, and teaches at California College of the Arts, VONA/Voices Summer Workshops for Writers of Color, Esalen, and The San Francisco Writers' Grotto.

    Books will be available for sale at the event for $22 plus tax. Book sales provided by Books Inc. Palo Alto.

    OFJCC Books Inc.

    In partnership with the African Library Project

    Thursday, November 2
    8:00 PM
    Freidenrich Conference Center, Room F-401
    $25 Ticket and book bundle | $20 General Public (ticket only) | $15 Members and J-Pass Holders (ticket only) | $10 Students (with valid ID)

    Contact: Heather Shaw | (650) 223-8678 | [email protected]


    "Penetratingly good . . . Zinzi Clemmons' debut novel signals the emergence of a voice that refuses to be ignored." ~ Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout

    "Stunning . . . Powerfully moving and beautifully wrought, What We Lose reflects on family, love, loss, race, womanhood and the places we feel home." ~ Buzzfeed

    "Inventive . . . An honest, propulsive account of grief, interrogating the relationship among death, sex, motherhood and culture . . . the novel pushes restlessly against its own boundaries—like Thandi herself . . . This is a big, brainy drama told by a fearless, funny young woman—part philosophy, part sociology and part ghost story . . . A compelling exploration of race, migration and womanhood in contemporary America." ~ Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

    "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, Pulitzer Prize Winner for Criticism and author of White Girls

    "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." ~ Glamour

    "Exacting reflections on race, mourning and family . . . Clemmons admirably balances the story's myriad complicated themes." ~ Publishers Weekly

    "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

    "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

    "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


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