In her debut novel, What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons tells of the overwhelming grief of a young woman in Philadelphia, struggling to connect the dislocated pieces of her life following the death of her mother. Thandi is half African-American and half “Coloured” from South Africa, striving to balance between cultures and find her identity. What We Lose was a finalist for the NBCC John Leonard First Book Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the California Book Award First Fiction, as well as longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize.
Clemmons was born and raised in Philadelphia. A graduate of Brown and Columbia, she is a cofounder and former publisher of Apogee Journal and a contributing editor to Literary Hub. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, where she is Writer in Residence at Occidental College.
“Clemmons’s narrator occupies a voice so clear that she, and her grief, feel immediately tangible.” – The New Yorker. “A richly volatile study of grief, wonderment and love.” – The Wall Street Journal.