If I Survive You
FINALIST FOR THE 2023 BOOKER PRIZE. LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION.
Finalist for the 2023 Pen/Faulkner Award and the Southern Book Award. Nominated for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the 2023 Pen/Jean Stein Open Book Award, the 2023 Pen/Bingham Prize, the 2022 Story Prize, the 2023 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the 2023 Brooklyn Library Prize, and the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize. National Bestseller. IndieNext Pick. One of The New York Times Book Review‘s 100 Notable Books of 2022.
“If I Survive You is a collection of connected short stories that reads like a novel, that reads like real life, that reads like fiction written at the highest level.” –Ann Patchett
A major debut, blazing with style and heart, that follows a Jamaican family striving for more in Miami, and introduces a generational storyteller.
In the 1970s, Topper and Sanya flee to Miami as political violence consumes their native Kingston. But America, as the couple and their two children learn, is far from the promised land. Excluded from society as Black immigrants, the family pushes on through Hurricane Andrew and later the 2008 recession, living in a house so cursed that the pet fish launches itself out of its own tank rather than stay. But even as things fall apart, the family remains motivated, often to its own detriment, by what the younger son, Trelawny, calls “the exquisite, racking compulsion to survive.”
Masterfully constructed with heart and humor, the linked stories in Jonathan Escoffery’s If I Survive You center on Trelawny as he struggles to carve out a place for himself amid financial disaster, racism, and flat-out bad luck. After a fight with Topper, Trelawny claws his way out of homelessness through a series of odd, often hilarious jobs. Meanwhile, his brother, Delano, attempts a disastrous cash grab to get his kids back, and his cousin Cukie looks for a father who doesn’t want to be found. As each character searches for a foothold, they never forget the profound danger of climbing without a safety net.
Pulsing with vibrant lyricism and inimitable style, sly commentary and contagious laughter, Escoffery’s debut unravels what it means to be in between homes and cultures in a world at the mercy of capitalism and whiteness. With If I Survive You, Escoffery announces himself as a prodigious storyteller in a class of his own, a chronicler of American life at its most gruesome and hopeful.
Jonathan Escoffery is the recipient of the 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction. His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Passages North, Zyzzyva, and Electric Literature, and has been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing. He is a fellow in the University of Southern California’s PhD in Creative Writing and Literature Program, and in 2021 he was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. He was raised in Miami, Florida. If I Survive You is his first book.
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