Grubbie Debut: Jonathan Escoffery with Dariel Suarez, If I Survive You
We're excited to welcome Jonathan Escoffery for the release of If I Survive You, his debut novel! Best-selling author Ann Patchett describes it as "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."
This in person event will take place on Tuesday, September 6 at 7pm at Porter Square Books: Boston Edition. We ask that attendees wear their masks for the duration of the event. Thank you for respecting the safety of our community! Register here.
If you'd prefer to attend virtually, you can do so via Crowdcast.
About the Book
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.
Jonathan Escoffery is the recipient of the 2020 Plimpton Prize for Fiction, a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and the 2020 ASME Award for Fiction. His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, American Short Fiction, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Passages North, Zyzzyva, and Electric Literature, and has been anthologized in The Best American Magazine Writing. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota, is a PhD fellow in the University of Southern California’s PhD in Creative Writing and Literature Program, and in 2021 was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. If I Survive You is his debut book.
Dariel Suarez is the Cuban-born author of the novel The Playwright’s House and the story collection A Kind of Solitude , winner of the International Latino Book Award for Best Collection of Short Stories. He is an inaugural City of Boston Artist Fellow and the Education Director at GrubStreet. Dariel’s prose received the First Lady Cecile de Jongh Literary Prize and has appeared in Best American Essays , The Threepenny Review , The Kenyon Review , Prairie Schooner , Michigan Quarterly Review , and The Caribbean Writer, among other publications. He resides in the Boston area with his wife and daughter.