Brass (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Xhenet Aliu

Random House, 9780399590245, 304pp.

Publication Date: January 23, 2018

List Price: 27.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

“A fierce, big-hearted, unflinching debut”* novel about mothers and daughters, haves and have-nots, and the stark realities behind the American Dream

*Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE

A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naïve, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams—and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it’s the place they can’t seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she’s pregnant, Elsie can’t help wondering where Bashkim’s heart really lies, and what he’ll do about the wife he left behind.

Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she’s stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie—a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined.

Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story.

Praise for Brass

“Lustrous . . . a tale alive with humor and gumption, of the knotty, needy bond between a mother and daughter . . . [Brass] marks the arrival of a writer whose work will stand the test of time.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“An exceptional debut novel, one that plumbs the notion of the American Dream while escaping the clichés that pursuit almost always brings with it . . . [Xhenet] Aliu delivers a living, breathing portrait of places left behind.”The Boston Globe

“The writing blazes on the page. . . . So much about the book is also extraordinarily timely, especially when it focuses on class and culture, and what they really mean.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Aliu is witty and unsparing in her depiction of the town and its inhabitants, illustrating the granular realities of the struggle for class mobility.”The New Yorker


About the Author

Xhenet Aliu’s debut fiction collection, Domesticated Wild Things, and Other Stories, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, The Barcelona Review, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an MLIS from The University of Alabama. A native of Waterbury, Connecticut, she was born to an Albanian father and a Lithuanian American mother. She now lives in Athens, Georgia, and works as an academic librarian.


Praise For Brass: A Novel

“Lustrous . . . a tale alive with humor and gumption, of the knotty, needy bond between a mother and daughter . . . [Brass] marks the arrival of a writer whose work will stand the test of time.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“An exceptional debut novel, one that plumbs the notion of the American Dream while escaping the clichés that pursuit almost always brings with it . . . [Xhenet] Aliu delivers a living, breathing portrait of places left behind.”The Boston Globe

“The writing blazes on the page. . . . The narrative is also incredibly funny, sly, and always popping with personality. . . . So much about the book is also extraordinarily timely, especially when it focuses on class and culture, and what they really mean. . . . Yes, we might be lost from who and what we really are. But, as this audacious novel shows, we can—and we must—keep struggling to make our own place in the world.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Aliu is witty and unsparing in her depiction of the town and its inhabitants, illustrating the granular realities of the struggle for class mobility.”The New Yorker

Brass simmers with anger—the all too real byproduct or working hard for not enough, of being a woman in a place where women have little value, of getting knocked down one too many times. But when the simmer breaks into a boil, Aliu alchemizes that anger into love, and in doing so creates one of the most potent dramatizations of the bond between mother and daughter that I’ve ever read. . . . I left this book with the sure sense that the characters were alive beyond its pages, though I wouldn’t dare try to guess what they are up to—Elsie and Lulu are too real for that.”The New York Times Book Review

“[A] lyrically insightful debut novel by Xhenet Aliu, telling in sharp, pithy parallel narratives the story of a waitress in small-town Connecticut who falls in love with a charismatic Albanian immigrant and the story of her grown daughter . . . Aliu makes both these stories immediately touching and weaves them together in ways that are surprising without being sappy.”The Christian Science Monitor

“Full of humor, love, and empathy, Brass is a stunner of a debut, making us excited for all still to come from Aliu.”Nylon

“Aliu writes a story of love, family, and the search for an origin story, set against the decaying backdrop of a post-industrial town.”The Millions

“In mordant, biting prose, [Xhenet Aliu] interweaves the stories of a mother and a daughter living in a fading Connecticut town they both hopelessly long to escape from.”HuffPost

“A boldly witty and astute inquiry into the nature-versus-nurture debate, the inheritance of pain, and the dream of transcendence.”Booklist (starred review)

“This glimmering debut novel reflects on mother-daughter connections, abandonment and resilience, and dreams that endure despite the odds.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Brass is one of our favorite mother/daughter stories of 2018 so far.Hello Giggles