Heavy: An American Memoir

February 25, 2020 - Comment

*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics* In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus

*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize—genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon “provocatively meditates on his trauma growing up as a black man, and in turn crafts an essential polemic against American moral rot” (Entertainment Weekly).

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to time in New York as a college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. Heavy is a “gorgeous, gutting…generous” (The New York Times) memoir that combines personal stories with piercing intellect to reflect both on the strife of American society and on Laymon’s experiences with abuse. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, he asks us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

“A book for people who appreciated Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family through years of haunting implosions and long reverberations. “You won’t be able to put [this memoir] down…It is packed with reminders of how black dreams get skewed and deferred, yet are also pregnant with the possibility that a kind of redemption may lie in intimate grappling with black realities” (The Atlantic).

Comments

Anonymous says:

The heaviness of this memoir will cause your heart to race and you to forget to breathe. Finished Heavy moments ago. I heard Kiese Laymon on NPR, and the second I heard he was from Mississippi, I pulled over and ordered, not only Heavy, but all of his books. I am so glad I was listening to NPR last week because I NEEDED this book in my life. As a Mississippian who left after college but whose family (including mom) still treads water in the state, this book gave voice to the pain, the struggles, the cycles of violence and desperation and waning hopelessness that influence just…

Anonymous says:

This book is that abundance. Heavy it is in more ways than one. Kiese Laymon’s intense memoir HEAVY: AN AMERICAN MEMOIR. What the author started writing as a child sitting on his grammama’s front porch in Mississippi as a young boy, he finishes as an educated young man, sharing his deepest, darkest secrets, which he withheld from those he loved, unleashing them finally, with the hopes of not only becoming the writer he was meant to be, but to stop living lies that went back and forth between him and his mom.In…

Anonymous says:

Jesus Laymon hits another grand slam Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese. Laymon (Scribner, 2018) is a complexly layered book. On its face it is the memories of a man who began his life as a poor child in Mississippi and how his experiences accumulated to make him the man, the author and the professor he is today. It is a journey in search of authentic love, authentic connections, authentic grasp of self in spite of the cultural and historic forces that would deprive him of all three.It is a brutal story. It is a…

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