Jamel Brinkley
2023 |

A Must-Read: The New York Times, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Vulture, The Boston Globe, Shondaland, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Review of Books, Essence, Literary Hub, The Millions, The Root “Exhilarating . . . [Jamel] Brinkley is a writer whose versatility knows no boundaries . . . A gift of the highest quality.” —Mateo Askaripour, The New York Times Book Review From National Book Award finalist Jamel Brinkley, Witness is an elegant, insistent narrative of actions taken and not taken. What does it mean to really see the world around you—to bear witness? And what does it cost us, both to see and not to see? 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 with, stand up for, care for, and remember one another, they often fall short, and the structures they build around these ambitions and failures shape their futures as well as the legacies and prospects of their communities and their city. In its portraits of families and friendships lost and found, the paradox of intimacy, the long shadow of grief, and 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.

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