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Publisher's Summary

"There is a universal appeal to [Narrator Ariel] Blake's performance as Edie, a protagonist who may be her own worst antagonist. Blake's delivery has an immensely human, relatable quality that makes the listener want the best for Edie as she struggles to make her way in the world." (AudioFile magazine, Earphones Award winner)

An instant New York Times best seller

National Indie best seller

Los Angeles Times best seller

Washington Post best seller

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 20s - sharing 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 marriage - with 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. 

A Macmillan Audio production from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"Exacting, hilarious, and deadly.... A writer of exhilarating freedom and daring." (Zadie Smith, Harper’s Bazaar

"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)

©2020 Raven Leilani (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

 “An unstable ballet of race, sex, and power. Leilani’s characters act in ways that often defy explanation, and that is part of what makes them so alive, and so mesmerizing: Whose behavior, in real life, can be reduced to simple cause and effect? Sharp, strange, propellent - and a whole lot of fun.” (Kirkus, starred review)

Editor's Pick

Believe the hype
Raven Leilani’s buzzy literary fiction debut simply must be heard to be fully experienced. The challenges Edie faces in navigating a nascent career as a young woman in New York City while defying stereotypes resonated with me deeply. With her multifaceted protagonist, Leilani chips away at the reductive monolithic idea of Black women so pervasive in media. The true nature and nuances of Edie are uncovered like a painting taking shape stroke by stroke, pulling you ever deeper into her history and pathologies. She’s a complicated human navigating a web of relationships—some life-giving, some poisonous—while trying to survive and create. This beautiful complexity is further realized through Ariel Blake’s narration. Rarely have I heard a character captured so thoroughly that it infuses new meaning into the work itself. Bottom line: Leilani is most definitely one to watch, and this captivating debut is one you can’t afford to miss. —Kelley S., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Luster

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Spellbinding

I couldn’t stop listening to this book, I had to see where it was going. The words flow like poetry painting a vivid and raw story.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Incredible

This was one of the best novels I’ve ever consumed. It was weird and funny and tragic and does an incredible job of capturing the experiences of a young, black woman. I listened to it in two days because I couldn’t walk away.

12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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No One to Like

I felt like the writer's impeccable details were lost on three highly dislikeable characters with a story that makes no sense. The protagonist is so full of self loathing that I felt like she was mentally I'll and being exploited by the author. The hypersexuality was disturbing without the character realizing how demeaning her sex life was. I hope the author uses her talents to create characters and stories that are relatable to readers.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Tedious. I do not recommend

This book is ridiculously wordy, and takes forever to get to points that seem to be meaningless. Terrible choice. Wish I could get my credit back.

7 people found this helpful

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Poetry

Intense, dramatic, raw, visual, current. Highly recommended. You might miss some references but just pause and look them up.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Not great

This seemed highly rated, so I took a chance and I regret it. The narration is (intentionally?) flat. The characters were unsympathetic and, at times, hard to believe. I am a 40-something woman and found it impossible to relate to the train-wreck 23 year old main character. This was an utterly disappointing story and I never felt it coalesce. Awful.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Odd

This book reminds me very much of books like “Love Me Back” and “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” in which women do some really self-destructive stuff without really reflecting on how that behaviors impacts their future. But with a black female character. There are fleeting moments of poignancy (I say this as a black millennial woman) but also moments when the suspension of disbelief was not possible. For example, I enjoyed and understand the conversation/dynamic between the protagonist and a co-worker but found her lack of friends quite odd. Ole girl has NO friends which is kind of the only reason the plot is feasible. I’m not mad I listened to it but it’s not my favorite either. I appreciate the fact that a black woman is flawed though her complete lack of self-awareness and introspection are difficult to digest, but I also don’t love first-person narratives and have become averse to them in general.

4 people found this helpful

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Just couldn’t track it

The author is a brilliant writer... but young. Very young. Almost all of her Gen X references way over my head which left me out in the cold. And the heroine? Maybe more self destructive than my weary heart can handle right now.

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Dark and Depressing

Unusual listen. Very dark and disturbing. Hard to connect to the characters. Descriptive and overly negative. Hard listen for me.

4 people found this helpful

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stunning, original debut novel

A revealing look into the psyche of a young black woman and the white family who befriends her. The writing is 1st class- complex, beautiful, each sentence and thought. A break from summer reading- it's an adventure into uncharted territory.

4 people found this helpful