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Jonathan Escoffery's debut If I Survive You chronicles an American immigration story full of hope, heartbreak, promises broken, and most importantly the constant struggle. Told in interconnected stories, If I Survive You addresses class, race, and economic disparity but is also funny. Mark my words, Escoffery is a rising literary star.
— Rachel Watkins
Really solid novel in stories from a bold new writer surrounding one Jamaican family about the ways that struggling to survive the forces of race and class and how they push us to the brink. A portrait of the very tenuous place so many of us live in.
September 2022 Indie Next List
“A story collection that reads like a loose novel; Escoffery is a literary master. Images from this book have come unbidden to me long after reading, as though these are people who told me their stories themselves. This is a knockout debut!”
— Julie Wernersbach, P&T Knitwear Bookstore, New York, NY
If I Survive You is a collection of connected short stories that reads like a novel, that reads like real life, that reads like fiction written at the highest level. --Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
Kaleidoscopic, urgent, hilarious, revelatory and like nothing you've read before. --Marlon James, author of Moon Witch, Spider King
A major debut, blazing with style and heart, that follows a Jamaican family striving for more in Miami, and introduces a generational storyteller.
In the 1970s, Topper and Sanya flee to Miami as political violence consumes their native Kingston. But America, as the couple and their two children learn, is far from the promised land. Excluded from society as Black immigrants, the family pushes on through Hurricane Andrew and later the 2008 recession, living in a house so cursed that the pet fish launches itself out of its own tank rather than stay. But even as things fall apart, the family remains motivated, often to its own detriment, by what their younger son, Trelawny, calls "the exquisite, racking compulsion to survive."
Masterfully constructed with heart and humor, the linked stories in Jonathan Escoffery's If I Survive You
center on Trelawny as he struggles to carve out a place for himself amid financial disaster, racism, and flat-out bad luck. After a fight with Topper--himself reckoning with his failures as a parent and his longing for Jamaica--Trelawny claws his way out of homelessness through a series of odd, often hilarious jobs. Meanwhile, his brother, Delano, attempts a disastrous cash grab to get his kids back, and his cousin, Cukie, looks for a father who doesn't want to be found. As each character searches for a foothold, they never forget the profound danger of climbing without a safety net.
Pulsing with vibrant lyricism and inimitable style, sly commentary and contagious laughter, Escoffery's debut unravels what it means to be in between homes and cultures in a world at the mercy of capitalism and whiteness. With If I Survive You
, Escoffery announces himself as a prodigious storyteller in a class of his own, a chronicler of American life at its most gruesome and hopeful.