If I Survive You high res cover UK
2024 Shortlist

If I Survive You

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ABOUT
THE BOOK

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 first through Hurricane Andrew and later the 2008 recession. But even as things fall apart, the family remains motivated by what their younger son calls “the exquisite, racking compulsion to survive.” Pulsing with vibrant lyricism and sly commentary, Escoffery’s debut unravels what it means to be in between homes and cultures in a world at the mercy of capitalism and white supremacy.

2024 JUDGES’ COMMENTS

Jonathan Escoffery’s energetic novel-in-stories, If I Survive You, follows a Jamaican family living hand-to-mouth in Florida. The different members of the family search for a foothold in this new and exhausting country, each in their own way, struggling against poverty, racism, recession and hurricanes. At the heart of the story lies a deep-rooted racial ambiguity; where does one belong and is it possible to be “a little of this and a little of that” and still find your way, find your people, find a future? The story also deals with the universal condition of fatherly rejection and sibling rivalry, with a remarkable eye for perfect de- tails. The narrative is vibrant, humorous, snappy and quietly devastating; eight interlinking stories told by various voices, often from an urgent and empathetic second-person point of view, and also in Jamaican dialect, that describe how life keeps knocking the family back in their pursuit of identity and happiness.

‘A fresh voice in fiction, Jonathan Escoffery blurs the lines between the short story and the novel in a work that brings us into the lives of Jamaican-Americans in Miami. Through linked stories, the form mirrors the lives of the characters and their struggles to connect, both with their families, and with the society around them.’ Chris Morash, 2024 Dublin Literary Non-Voting Chair

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Jonathan
Escoffery

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 was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. Photo Credit: Cola Casados

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 was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University. Photo Credit: Cola Casados

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NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

Jonathan Escoffery masterfully creates memorable characters who wrestle the eternal themes of brother against brother; fate against determination; privilege versus lack; self-love versus self-loathing.Where is home? What are you?, propel Trelawny from his birthplace, Miami, to his ancestral home, Kingston, to America’s heart of whiteness (Midwest), and connect him with the stories of Cukie, Carlos, Mikey (the eternally optimistic and eternally ill-fated), to the awful, yet not so awful duo of Morgan and Tim. Escoffery’s skillful use of language and insight into the human heart and mind; into family dynamics, and into the irrational relationships and intra-relationships between people of colour and white people make every last one of his characters very credible— even the ones who have one line. He leaves the reader with the thought: Heaven help us all.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
06/09/2022
Country
Jamaica, United States
Original Language
English
Publisher
MCD, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, McClelland & Stewart, Penguin Random House Canada
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