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WINNER - 2020 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD GAY MEMOIR / BIOGRAPHY
WINNER OF THE 2019 KIRKUS PRIZE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE 2020 STONEWALL BOOK AWARD-ISRAEL FISHMAN NONFICTION AWARD
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES’S 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful—a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
Author: Saeed Jones
Hardcover Published November 2019 208 pages
Recommended and Reviewed by Hendri:
"How does it feel to be racially eroticised? How does it feel to come out to your mother while sensing that the word 'gay' is not always enough to capture what you've been through? How does it feel to be addicted to the damage that we share with our sex partners? How does it feel when people accept you as an out gay man but not as "an out gay who likes to have sex"?
These questions are part of the universe of Saeed Jones's How We Fight For Our Lives", a memoir of an American black gay man, which won the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Memoir/Biography. As a highly-talented poet, Jones knows how to invite readers to grasp and explain our most profound and unspeakable feelings through beautiful yet accessible prose. Moving from a Playboy magazine, a public library toilet, to a series of casual sex encounters, Jones chronicles his sexual and self-discovery journey, particularly when language is not enough to capture what he feels and when society demands erasure of himself continually.
Of course, being queer is not only about sex. It is also about how we form a relationship with our family members when they don't always understand the complexity behind our identities. This is also the central aspect of the book: Jones's relationship with his single mother, grandmother, and uncle. When acceptance and love cannot always be fully verbalised, there are consequently a variety of ways to express understanding, and also, misunderstanding, from which we learn how to love genuinely."