• Witness: Stories

Witness: Stories

From a National Book Award finalist, Witness is an elegant, insistent narrative of actions taken and not taken.

What does it mean to take action? To bear witness? What does it cost?

In these ten stories, each set in the changing landscapes of contemporary New York City, a range of characters—from children to grandmothers to ghosts—live through the responsibility of perceiving and the moral challenge of speaking up or taking action. Though they strive to connect, to remember, to stand up for, and to really see each other, they often fall short, and the structures they build around these ambitions and failures shape not only their own futures but the legacies and prospects of their families and their city.

In its portraits of families and friendships lost and found, the paradox of intimacy, the long shadow of grief, the meaning of home, Witness enacts its own testimony. Here is a world where fortunes can be made and stolen in just a few generations, where strangers might sometimes show kindness while those we trust—doctors, employers, siblings—too often turn away, where joy comes in snatches: flowers on a windowsill, dancing in the street, glimpsing your purpose, change on the horizon.

With prose as upendingly beautiful as it is artfully, seamlessly crafted, Jamel Brinkley offers nothing less than the full scope of life and death and change in the great, unending drama of the city.

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