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How Are You Going to Save Yourself

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Four young men struggle to liberate themselves from the burden of being black and male in America in an assured debut "as up-to the-minute as a Kendrick Lamar track and as ruefully steeped in eternal truths as a Gogol tale" (Kirkus, starred review).

Bound together by shared experience but pulled apart by their changing fortunes, four young friends coming of age in the postindustrial enclave of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, struggle to liberate themselves from the legacies left to them as black men in America. With potent immediacy and bracing candor, this provocative debut follows a decade in the lives of Dub, Rolls, Rye, and Gio as they each grapple with the complexity of their family histories, the newfound power of sex and drugs, and the ferocity of their desires.

Gio proves himself an unforgettable narrator, beautifully flawed and unstintingly honest, as he recounts both the friends' conflicts and their triumphs. Whether it's a fraught family cookout, a charged altercation on the block, a raucous night in high-society Manhattan gone wrong, or the troubled efforts of a drug hustler to go clean, JM Holmes brings the thump and the heat of his scenes to life with the kind of ease that makes us not just eavesdroppers but participants.

How Are You Going to Save Yourself illuminates in breathtaking detail an entire world-one that has been underrepresented in American fiction. At times funny, often uncomfortable, occasionally disturbing, these stories fearlessly engage with issues of race, sex, drugs, class, and family. Holmes's blistering and timely new voice, richly infused with the unmistakable rhythms of hip-hop that form the sound track to his characters' lives, delivers an indelible fiction that has never been more vital and necessary.

ISBN-13: 9780316514859

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

Publication Date: 08-20-2019

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 5.45(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.95(d)

JM Holmes was born in Denver and raised in Rhode Island. He won the Burnett Howe Prize for fiction at Amherst College, and received fellowships to the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. He has worked in educational outreach in Iowa, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. He lives in Milwaukee and is currently at work on a novel.

What People are Saying About This

PEN/Faulkner Award winner for Delicious Foods - James Hannaham

“JM Holmes writes like someone told him Denis Johnson and Mat Johnson were brothers. These stories are as ferocious and fearless as those of his heroes.”

New York Times bestselling author of House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days - Andre Dubus III

“It is a rare gift to us all when a writer’s talents and subject command equal attention, but that is just what we have here in JM Holmes’s superb debut, How Are You Going to Save Yourself. Written in spare, colloquial, and deeply evocative prose, these linked stories capture the contemporary lives of young men trying to find their way in this world, young men who also happen to be black in a post-industrial, ever-changing cultural landscape. These powerful stories herald the rise of an important and timely new voice among us, and I will now look for anything by JM Holmes.”