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Raven Leilani’s wickedly smart Luster is the Vox Book Club’s February pick

Chase away the winter doldrums with the Vox Book Club.

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The cover of the novel Luster by Raven Leilani. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

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February is traditionally the month of winter doldrums in much of the US, the month where you might find yourself staring glassy-eyed out the window at dirty slush and wondering whether green grass is a myth. And that seems especially likely to be the case in 2021, as the slow and fraught vaccine rollout continues to creep along apace. So the Vox Book Club would like to offer a little bit of brightness to the world with our February book pick, Luster by Raven Leilani.

Luster is one of those books that makes the world seem both clearer and more interesting than you thought it was. It concerns 23-year-old Edie, a Black woman living in Brooklyn. After getting fired from her crappy publishing job, Edie moves in with her married white boyfriend, his white wife, and their adopted Black daughter.

Leilani plays out all the psychosexual dynamics of this juicy premise with an eye for surreal dark humor. But what really makes Luster sing is Leilani’s ability to evoke with precise and damning detail the hypocrisy of the smugly virtuous white liberal landscape Edie is trying to navigate. There’s plenty to unpack here, and I’m excited to jump in.

Here’s the full Vox Book Club schedule for February 2021

Friday, February 12: Discussion post on Luster published to

Monday, February 22: Virtual live event with author Raven Leilani. Subscribe to the Vox Book Club newsletter, and we’ll send you an RSVP link as soon as it’s available.

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