*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).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Sometimes, telling your own difficult story can be an act of liberation. That’s the feeling that comes through in Kiese Laymon’s stirring memoir about his boyhood and his lifelong struggles with violence, racism, and body image. Laymon grew up in Mississippi with a single mother who was fiercely intelligent and unfailingly attentive, but also physically abusive and viciously overcritical. Addressing the memoir directly to his mother, Laymon keeps returning to the sheer physicality of his body in a way that’s so visceral, you feel every word. Narrating himself, we could feel the intensity of every anecdote in Laymon’s voice. His stories about trying to shield himself from his mother’s barbs about his weight, grappling with discrimination at his mostly white college, and finding his voice as a writer will have you in tears one minute and intensely proud of his accomplishments the next. When it comes to Black coming-of-age stories, Laymon’s is, well, Heavy. But it’s one of the most cathartic, intense memoirs we’ve heard in years.
New favorite author
Some of the most beautiful writing I've ever heard. I didn't know it was possible to get this honest. I can't even describe what this audio book has done to me and taught me. Do yourself a favor and listen to this then tell everyone you know to listen to this. Kiese Laymon goes all in.