Malcolm X

Debut novelist Zinzi Clemmons is frank and experimental in 'What We Lose'

Debut novelist Zinzi Clemmons is frank and experimental in 'What We Lose'

The day before her first book tour, Zinzi Clemmons almost locked herself out.

It was, I admit, partially my fault: she left the building to meet me and the door shut behind her. Her husband, the poet and translator André Naffis-Sahely, was in London touring his own first collection, so she buzzed a guard to let her back into the complex in Culver City, shaded by sycamores, eucalyptus and pines. Luckily, she’d left her own front door open. Clemmons exhaled with relief as we walked inside.

Her debut novel, “What We Lose,” is about a young woman enduring the loss of her mother. Structured innovatively in precise vignettes, it stares down questions of emotional inheritance,...

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