Caribbean professor Lila Bonnard arrives in Vermont for a short-term teaching position and is forced to confront the terrible legacy of American (in)justice
"The racial politics of a small town in Vermont, as seen through Lila’s eyes, provides an illuminating counterplay between Caribbean and American Blackness."
"As a portrait of Lila's political and racial awakening, the novel is a grand success."
“In Now Lila Knows, Elizabeth Nunez has crafted an indelible saga, one that is both of the times and timeless; both personal and universal. This beautifully, masterfully written novel is at once a compelling love story, a crucial exploration of the contemporary immigrant experience, and a trenchant critique of American racism.”
—Mitchell S. Jackson, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of The Residue Years
Lila Bonnard has left her island home in the Caribbean to join the faculty as a visiting professor at Mayfield College in a small Vermont town. On her way from the airport to Mayfield, Lila witnesses the fatal shooting of a Black man by the police. It turns out that the victim was a professor at Mayfield, and was giving CPR to a white woman who was on the verge of an opioid overdose.
The two Black faculty and a Black administrator in the otherwise all-white college expect Lila to be a witness in the case against the police. Unfortunately, Lila fears that in the current hostile political climate against immigrants of color she may jeopardize her position at the college by speaking out, and her fiancé advises her to remain neutral.
Now Lila Knows is a gripping story that explores our obligation to act when confronted with the unfair treatment of fellow human beings. A page-turner with universal resonance, this novel will leave readers rethinking the meaning of love and empathy.
"The latest novel by Elizabeth Nunez offers a thrilling and timely perspective on the immigrant experience, racism and injustice in the contemporary U.S."
—Ms. Magazine, included in 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us roundup
"Powerful in message . . . An engaging, warm-hearted, page-turner of a novel."
—New West Indian Guide
“Timely and essential, Now Lila Knows is a luminous story of discovery and the consequences of being Black in America.”
—Bernice L. McFadden, author of The Book of Harlan
“Now Lila Knows is a tale of empathy that comes at the necessary cost, however delayed, of losing one’s innocence, of trading it for a harsher, more urgent reality. By encircling the reader in what they might think they know—about America, about the Caribbean, and the spaces in between—Elizabeth Nunez challenges us to answer for ourselves not only what we know, but also what we are prepared to do. The magic of this novel is that it opens a window to Black life in America through the eyes of an immigrant. A must read.”
—Kevin Adonis Browne, OCM Bocas Prize winner, author of High Mas
Praise for Elizabeth Nunez:
"Nunez is one of the finest and most necessary voices in contemporary American and Caribbean fiction."
--Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
"Nunez has always had the power to get to the essence of what makes human beings take right and wrong turns."
--Edward P. Jones, author of The Known World
"King Lear in the Caribbean—except in this novel, the flattery and deceit of Glynis (Goneril) and Rebecca (Regan) lose out to the principled, honest love of their younger sister, Corinne (Cordelia)."
—O, the Oprah Magazine, 10 Titles to Pick Up Now, on Even in Paradise
"An epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear [is a] dazzling, epic triumph." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on Even in Paradise
Not for Everyday Use won the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction and was long-listed for the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize in Nonfiction
"Nunez ponders the cultural, racial, familial, social, and personal experiences that led to what she ultimately understands was a deeply loving union between her parents. A beautifully written exploration of the complexities of marriage and family life." —Booklist, starred review, on Not for Everyday Use
"[A] narrative that feels like a close friend talking about her past . . . An insightful, generous story." —Oprah.com, on Not for Everyday Use
Boundaries was a finalist for the 2012 NAACP Image Award in Literature
"Many moments of elegant, overarching insight bind the personal to the collective past." —New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice, on Boundaries
"Nunez deftly dissects the immigrant experience in light of cultural traditions that impact family roles, professional obligations, and romantic opportunities." —Booklist, on Boundaries
Anna In-Between won the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
"A psychologically and emotionally astute family portrait, with dark themes like racism, cancer, and the bittersweet longing of the immigrant." —New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice, on Anna In-Between
"Nunez . . . has created a moving and insightful character study while delving into the complexities of identity politics. Highly recommended." —Library Journal, starred review, on Anna In-Between