I know literally one of the last posts I published was about how I’m stepping back from doing stuff that’s not writing my novel… but I filmed like three YouTube videos today OOPS.
The first is one I promised to do back in Autism Awareness Week in March and decided now was the time to hurry the hell up and do it. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below or the comments on YouTube or tweet me or whatever!
When I started reading What We Lose, I thought it was a memoir. 50 pages in I happened to turn over the proof and noticed the words “a novel”, alongside realising that the author’s name was Zinzi, not Thandi. I had become so enraptured in the writing, I hadn’t for a second thought it wasn’t memoir. Thandi is such a fully realised person that I fully believed What We Lose was the story of her life, and a life that actually lived.
What We Lose follows Thandi through the death of her mother, told through short vignettes in a style straight out of the literary memoir genre. Thandi is both American and South African, but she feels not quite either, and the non-linearity of the novel finds her both in love and falling out of love at the same time.
Through her eyes (and Zinzi’s) the reader is told a lot about the history of South Africa, from Oskar Pistorious to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to the photography of Kevin Carter. The novel also includes photographs and short poems, creating a multimedia experience akin to Claudia Rankin’s poetry collections. Clemmon’s sparse yet impactful prose brings to mind the best works of Elizabeth Strout and Deborah Levy.
While it took me only an evening to read this novella, the emotions linger. Clemmons explores the spectrum of grief from the sudden bereavement to forgetting their voice. Her writing is honest and ragged raw. I’m still thinking about Thandi now, and wondering how about her life after the novel.
I truly, truly think that What We Lose is going to grab the attention of several literary awards. It’s an impressive, profound novella that balances history with the complexities of romance, grief and a sense of belonging.
Interested? Get it here.
What to read next:
Thank you kindly to the team at Harper Collins Insider and 4th Estate Press for sharing this copy with me.
Since Nerys came, things have been a little less regular on the blog and especially my YouTube where dust bunnies are gathering in the corners. Being a puppy mom takes up a lot of time, as you’d expect, and my plans for some articles and videos are sitting on the side lines.
And they’re getting sidelined even more because of a couple of things. The one I’m going to tell you about is….. *deep breath* I’m going to enter Write Now Live.
Write Now Live is a scheme by Penguin Random House specifically for BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled authors, whereby ten are chosen to be mentored with the intention of PRH publishing their book.
Now, I’m fully expecting not to get to the final 10. I’d like to get to the big day in London, but I’m using the deadlines for WNL as deadlines to get my book done. This last week I’ve done 3 days in a row of 3 hours a day of solid editing and rewriting. While not much, this is a lot more than I have been doing in the last few months, so I’m counting it as a win. I’ve currently got 30,000 words drafted of manuscript, expecting to edit, chop and add stuff into this to bring it up to ~45000, or half way through the first book… because I’m writing a trilogy.
So yeah, things are going to be quiet on here for the next month potentially, but I’m hoping that needing distractions from my own terrible writing will drive me to book reviewing. I have a stack of 10-12 that need addressing already.
So yeh, wish me luck guys. I don’t think WNL are looking for gay fantasy YA right now, but I’m serving it them anyway.