An exciting declaration of passion and tenacity and what it’s like to be young, gifted, black, and queer in an America where every corner is marked with the specter of hatred, ignorance, and tragedy. Through adversity, Saeed Jones still manages to find a path to remain whole and resolute—within the tears, he finds purpose. This book cuts a groove into you.
“A coming-of-age memoir marks the emergence of a major literary voice…Masterful.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An astonishing, unparalleled memoir…A rhapsody in the truest sense of the word.” —Roxane Gay
“Every single living half-grown and grown-up body needs to read this book.” —Jacqueline Woodson
One of the most anticipated books of Fall 2019—as selected by O Magazine, The Millions, Parade,Library Journal, Booklist, Refinery29, Good Housekeeping, and more.
“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.
About the Author
Saeed Jones is the author of Prelude to Bruise, winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry and the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award. The poetry collection was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as awards from Lambda Literary and the Publishing Triangle in 2015. Jones is a co-host of BuzzFeed’s morning show, AM to DM, and previously served as BuzzFeed’s LGBT editor and Culture editor. Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. He earned a BA at Western Kentucky University and an MFA at Rutgers University-Newark. He lives in New York City and tweets @TheFerocity.
“This memoir is a rhapsody in the truest sense of the word, fragments of epic poetry woven together so skillfully, so tenderly, so brutally, that you will find yourself aching in the way only masterful writing can make a person ache. How We Fight for Our Lives is that rare book that will show you what it means to be needful, to be strong, to be gloriously human and fighting for your life.” —Roxane Gay, author of Hunger
“This book. Oh my goodness. It is everything everyone needs right now—both love song and battle cry, brilliant as fuck and at times, heartbreaking as hell. Every single living half-grown and grownup body needs to read this book. I’m shook. I’m changed.” —Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn
“There will be little left to say, and so much left to make after the world experiences Saeed Jones's How We Fight for Our Lives. This is that rare piece of literary art that teaches us how to read and write on every page. It's so black. So queer. So subtextual, and amazingly so sincere. Saeed changes everything we thought we knew about memoir writing, narrative structure, and heart meat. All three are obliterated. All three are tended to over and over again. All three will never ever be the same after this book. It's really that good.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
“[This] memoir marks the emergence of a major literary voice…written with masterful control of both style and material.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Powerful…Jones is a remarkable, unflinching storyteller, and his book is a rewarding page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Scorching…a commentary not only on what it takes to become truly and wholly oneself, but on race and LGBTQ identity, power and vulnerability, and how relationships can make and break us along the way.” —Good Housekeeping