cover image An Autobiography of Skin

An Autobiography of Skin

Lakiesha Carr. Pantheon, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-31653-5

With gorgeous prose and subtly spectral vibes, Carr’s striking debut delves into generational trauma with the stories of three Black women. There’s middle-aged Jeanette, who treats her grief over her mother’s death by gambling in a backroom slot parlor and deals with her lonely marriage by drinking, listening to records, and taking hot baths, “letting the heat of the water do things [her] husband stopped doing years ago.” Maya, a stay-at-home mother, finds her postpartum depression deepened by the absence of her husband Troy, an adult film producer, and by frequent news of Black men being killed by police. Maya’s friend Ketinah, meanwhile, sees ghosts, and her reunion with the elder women in her family—including her mother, Peaches, who is best friends with Jeanette; and her tenacious grandmother Mama Eloise, who shares Ketinah’s mystical abilities—forces her to reckon with the enduring heartbreak and substance abuse issues disrupting her relationships. By tracing the characters’ complex bonds, Carr underscores the power of community and kinship among Black women who find a way to be vulnerable and joyful in a world that too often charges them with the role of caretakers. This exploration of love, courage, and desire is not to be missed. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Feb.)