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How do you grieve an absence? From the award-winning author of The Old Drift, “a piercing, sharply written novel about the conjuring power of loss” (Raven Leilani, author of Luster).
“A genuine tour de force . . . What seems at first a meditation on family trauma unfolds through the urgency of an amnesiac puzzle-thriller, then a violently compelling love story.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Vulture, Lit Hub, Electric Lit, BookPage
I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.
Cassandra Williams is twelve; her little brother, Wayne, is seven. One day, when they’re alone together, there is an accident and Wayne is lost forever. His body is never recovered. The missing boy cleaves the family with doubt. Their father leaves, starts another family elsewhere. But their mother can’t give up hope and launches an organization dedicated to missing children.
As C grows older, she sees her brother everywhere: in bistros, airplane aisles, subway cars. Here is her brother’s face, the light in his eyes, the way he seems to recognize her, too. But it can’t be, of course. Or can it? Then one day, in another accident, C meets a man both mysterious and familiar, a man who is also searching for someone and for his own place in the world. His name is Wayne.
Namwali Serpell’s remarkable new novel captures the uncanny experience of grief, the way the past breaks over the present like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a story of mistaken identity, double consciousness, and the wishful—and sometimes willful—longing for reunion with those we’ve lost.
About the Author
Namwali Serpell was born in Lusaka, Zambia, and lives in New York. She received a 2020 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, the 2015 Caine Prize for African Writing, and a 2011 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Her debut novel, The Old Drift, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction, and the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; it was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review and one of Time magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of the Year. Her nonfiction book, Stranger Faces, was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. She is currently a professor of English at Harvard.
“A gorgeous, surreal meditation on identity and mourning, one that squeezes the heartstrings and rarely relaxes its grip.”—New York Magazine
“Lyrical, daring, assured . . . [An] intricate, genre-bending novel . . . Enthralling . . . Serpell disrupts our expectations, over and over . . . [and] blurs the line between our dreams and our waking lives.”—Oprah Daily
“I’ll jump to read anything Serpell writes, and all the more so with a novel about grief and memory and longing.”—Electric Lit
“One of the world’s most exciting contemporary novelists . . . I’m eagerly anticipating this new work from her.”—Literary Hub
“In Namwali Serpell’s hands, grief is a kind of possession. The Furrows is a piercing, sharply written novel about the conjuring power of loss.”—Raven Leilani, New York Times bestselling author of Luster
“This book reads like a ghost story, a murder mystery, a thriller, a redemptive love story that never loses its knife edge of danger. A daring and masterful novel about how we respond to the mystery of death.”—Kiran Desai, Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss
“Grief is dogged company. It shapeshifts and proliferates, hijacking thoughts and ravaging sleep. But Namwali Serpell’s riveting prose urges me to believe that sometimes the true work of grief is to rupture us so thoroughly, we become capable of telling—and living—another story.”—Tracy K. Smith, author of the Pulitzer prize-winner Life on Mars
“The Furrows is a deeply felt novel that deserves to be read. So eloquent and assured that I easily fell into this sweeping, gut-wrenching tale of loss, grief, and identity.”—Nicole Dennis-Benn, award-winning author of Patsy and Here Comes the Sun
“Beautifully written . . . it blew me away.”—Zoë Wicomb, author of You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town
“Who could have imagined that a novel about loss and long grieving could be so soaring, so sexy, so luminously beautiful and poetic, such a rich and shimmeringly scored piece for three voices?”—Neel Mukherjee, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of The Lives of Others
“A triumph . . . Wonderfully unpredictable, arresting, haunting.”—Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
“Namwali Serpell’s deep unity of imagery and voice is at the employ of a wild talent for narrative pivot and surprise . . . The final pages take flight with visionary intensity. The Furrows is a genuine tour de force.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
“Namwali Serpell’s gift soars. . . . Currents of grief, guilt, and greed are unpicked with ruthless precision. . . . The Furrows establishes her as a literary powerhouse.”—Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, author of Kintu
“In Serpell’s hands, longing becomes a story of uncanny repetition, and the logic of dreams feels intensely, compellingly real.”—Isabella Hammad, author of The Parisian