Book Review – What We Lose

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons (4th Estate) ISBN: 978 0 00 824594 8

I find this book difficult to review. I’m not in agreement with many, who have raved about it. I found it fragmented, swinging between present and past and throwing in a pile of unrelated events. It was, for me, both too loose and too tight. I don’t think it is really a novel. There are some beautiful nuggets of emotion and writing that begins to reach out and touch the reader, but the author has presented more of a memoir, a scattering of diary entries, thoughts and imaginings.

The central themes of belonging and loss are clearest in the sections where she faces the death of her mother. Anyone who’s ever lost someone who was their very foundation will find these incredibly moving.

Maybe I read it all wrong – this very loss may be the cause of the unhinged stream of consciousness quality of the book, and the effect it wrought may be intended. But I didn’t feel I understood that, or was taken to that point.

Judy Ward


Posted on: 10th February 2018