Heavy by Kiese Laymon


*Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and Kirkus Prize Finalist*In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state o...

Details Heavy

Release DateOct 16th, 2018
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Essays, Biography, Cultural, African American

Reviews Heavy

  • Roxane
    How do you carry the weight of being a black man in America? In electrifying, deliberate prose, Kiese Laymon tries to answer that question from the first page of Heavy: An American Memoir to the last. He writes about what it means to live in a heavy body, in all senses of that word. He writes of family, love, place, trauma, race, desire, grief, rage, addiction, and human weakness, and he does so relentlessly, without apology. To call the way Laym...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    At the very beginning of HEAVY, Laymon writes, "I did not want to write to you. I wanted to write a lie." The "you" is Laymon's mother, and the book is, above all else, about the two of them, written with such openly bared love and fear that it feels like intruding on them to read it. Even the people you know best don't reveal themselves to you this way, and that is, perhaps, some of what Laymon is trying to correct for at least one reader. The h...
  • Andre
    Such an aptly titled memoir because it is indeed heavy, not only speaking about his struggles with weight, but also heavy in the literary and impact sense. It is both heady and the words land with real impact on the reader. Kiese Laymon has given us a brutally honest look into his life and asks us, the readers to bear the weight of his experiences, and that is a challenging request but one well worth the payoff. And that recompense comes in the f...
  • Rachel Smalter Hall
    If you like memoirs where the author rips their heart out of their chest and leaves it beating on the floor, great, because we have so much to talk about. Kiese Laymon's new memoir has left me totally speechless, but I'm going to try really hard to make words now so I can tell you how deeply I loved it.Heavy is about a lot of things, including what happens to the body after trauma. From the time he was just a kid in Mississippi, Kiese Laymon has ...
  • Kasa Cotugno
    What ever choices or challenges you may be forced to make in life, they are NOTHING compared to what it means to exist as a black man in today's America. The implementation of bodycams spawning outrage while watching the evening news, the helplessness at the tragedy felt at a watching, nightly, as lives are changed forever by impetuousness and unwarranted fear. This is Kiese's own story as he narrates to his mother. His writing is raw, but his ac...
  • Steve Haruch
    A memoir that reads like a novel, Heavy grapples with racism, abuse, addiction, rape culture, body image and shame — with a kind of radical honesty and radical tenderness that is urgent and necessary. Beautiful and terrifying, and one of the most powerful books I've read in a long time.
  • Monet
    I’m reminded of Roxane Gay’s Hunger in the way Laymon unclothes his body and reveals it to us. I can’t think of another book that existed like Hunger and now I can’t think of another book that exists like Heavy. You’ll want to say you read both of these books in their first moments of existing.
  • Cady
    I couldn't look away or put Laymon's devastating memoir down. Laymon's writing is tender, raw, and fierce, ripping through your heart as he explores what it really means to love honestly as a black man who's inherited a legacy of horrific racial violence in the American South.
  • Kromeklia Bryant
    This book had an uncomfortable truth to it. I couldn't put it down. Couldn't not think about my own upbringing. Powerful!
  • Lacy Johnson
    In HEAVY, Kiese Laymon asks how to survive in a body despite the many violences that are inflicted upon it: the violence of racism, of misogyny, of history — the violence of a culture that treats the bodies of black men with fear and suspicion more often than with tenderness and attentive care. In prose that sears at the same time as it soars, Kiese Laymon breaks the unbearable silence each of these violences, in their peculiar cruelty, has imp...
  • Rachel (nerdlyy)
    I received a free ARC of this book for my honest review.There is a lot to say about Kiese Laymon's brilliant new memoir. I read this while simultaneously listening to Roxane Gay's Hunger, and I don't know that I could have picked a book more closely matched in terms of tone and subject matter if I had planned it. In Heavy, Laymon explores how his complicated relationship to both food and his body is the consequence of grappling with black masculi...
  • Rach
    "We will share. We will remember, imagine, and help build what we cannot find. Or, it is likely we will not remember.We will not imagine.We will not share.We will not swing back.We will not organize.We will not be honest.We will not be tender.We will not be generous.We will do what Americans do.We will abuse like Americans abuse.We will forget like Americans forget. We will hunt like Americans hunt.We will hide like Americans hide.We will lie lik...
  • Jade
    As he states right at the beginning of his memoir, Kiese Laymon could have written a lie. He could have sugarcoated and hidden, forgotten, and omitted. But he didn’t, and I’m so glad he told the real raw truth in Heavy. A word of warning: Heavy is going to rip your heart out more than once, and cause you to start looking at your own life in a different way. We could all tell lies, we all do tell lies… What will happen if we take a page out ...
  • Eleanor
    This is the first of two memoirs by black men that I've read in the past few weeks. Laymon's context is American. He is the child of a single mother from Mississippi, a brilliant woman whose tenacity and academic achievements were matched only by her high expectations for her son and her punishing disappointment (often physically; in the memoir, she strikes young Kiese a lot) when he doesn't match up. The book is roughly chronological, tracing La...
  • Diane Payne
    Kiese Layton can write the hell out of a day. I loved listening to his grandma when she was imparting her words of wisdom on Kiese. I admire the honest of this memoir and how he sent the book to his mother before it was published. I read her letter to Kiese on his website and found that interesting also. He speaks to so many readers who wake up at night afraid they're becoming that parent. Damn, this is the perfect memoir.
  • Danny Caine
    A wide-ranging and brilliant memoir, Heavy is a howl, a lament, an excoriation, and a question. Tracing the difficult relationship between Laymon and his mother, the book investigates body image, sexual violence, racial identity and language itself in an America that can bend a body until it breaks. A memoir that will sit heavy on you, and a deeply affecting book.
  • Csimplot
    Excellent book!
  • Frank Karioris
    Review forthcoming.
  • Sarah
    Kiese Laymon is a powerful force to be reckoned with on the page. This book will be literary canon. Highly recommended.
  • Kirby
    Gut wrenching. Intense. Overwhelming. Kiese Laymon is a brilliant writer and this memoir will fill you with shock, horror, despair, and hope.
  • Gina
    A stunning, lyrical, heartbreaking love letter.