by Jamel Brinkley
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Pub Date 01 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023
From a National Book Award finalist, Witness is an elegant, insistent narrative of actions taken and not taken.
What does it mean to take action? To bear witness? What does it cost?
In these ten stories, each set in the changing landscapes of contemporary New York City, a range of characters—from children to grandmothers to ghosts—live through the responsibility of perceiving and the moral challenge of speaking up or taking action. Though they strive to connect, to remember, to stand up for, and to really see each other, they often fall short, and the structures they build around these ambitions and failures shape not only their own futures but the legacies and prospects of their families and their city.
In its portraits of families and friendships lost and found, the paradox of intimacy, the long shadow of grief, the meaning of home, Witness enacts its own testimony. Here is a world where fortunes can be made and stolen in just a few generations, where strangers might sometimes show kindness while those we trust—doctors, employers, siblings—too often turn away, where joy comes in snatches: flowers on a windowsill, dancing in the street, glimpsing your purpose, change on the horizon.
With prose as upendingly beautiful as it is artfully, seamlessly crafted, Jamel Brinkley offers nothing less than the full scope of life and death and change in the great, unending drama of the city.
“Jamel Brinkley reminds one of iconic short-story writers Edward P. Jones and Mavis Gallant. His characters, full of mysteries and secrets, do not strive to be something larger than life, nor do they allow themselves to be reduced into categorizable and explicable figures. Each story in Witness brings a novel’s worth of richness and complexity. This is a dazzling collection by a masterful storyteller.”
—YIYUN LI, author of The Book of Goose
“Jamel Brinkley is one of the best story writers we have. Witness is a book of psychological acuity, of graceful sentences, of devastation and heart. Read everything this man writes, and know the world anew.”
—JUSTIN TORRES, author of We the Animals
“Brinkley’s sentences are daggers. He writes about the shifting intimacies of community and love with wit and warmth.”
—RAVEN LEILANI, author of Luster
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
Thanks to Netgalley and FSG for the ebook. These ten stories, show different generations of black families that deal with the obligations of family life, dead end jobs, failed romances and an ever gentrifying New York City. Life is never straightforward in these tales as a man is trying to deal with a visit from his young son while he tries to move his father, who is suffering from dementia, and into an elder care facility and wondering who might buy his father's house, seeing as the ghost of his mother is still living there. Story after story is as rich as this one, asking hard questions, while always keeping a good sense of humor.
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