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If I Survive You

9780374605995 fc
Hardcover, MCD × FSG, 2022
Releases 09/06/22
200091076

Jonathan Escoffery

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"If I Survive You is 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." —Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

"Kaleidoscopic, urgent, hilarious, revelatory and like nothing you've read before."
—Marlon James, author of Moon Witch, Spider King

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.

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  • "It’s truly a feat that a book of short stories tackling such big stuff—family, love, violence, race—could be so damn funny. Jonathan Escoffery is a writer only just getting started, and his first book is a welcome reminder of what fiction can do."

    Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
  • "Kaleidoscopic, urgent, hilarious, revelatory and like nothing you've read before. These are the stories that we never believed could be told, until Jonathan Escoffery told them."

    Marlon James, author of Moon Witch, Spider King

  • "An electrifying, enthralling debut about identity and belonging. Jonathan Escoffery illuminates both beauty and trauma and the ways in which so many of us Jamaicans are still looking for home within ourselves. Told with humor and clear-eyed grace, this spectacular collection introduces us to an amazing new voice."

    Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun and Patsy
  • "If I Survive You is 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 is a compelling hurricane of a book that sweeps the past, present and future together into one inextricable knot. This is where Jonathan Escoffery's career begins. There are no limits to where he will go."

    Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
  • "If I Survive You is a collection of brilliant wit, real heart, and electric humor. Jonathan Escoffery masterfully mines from his life and emerges, in this debut, as a talent not to be ignored." 

    Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black