"Namwali Serpell’s second novel declares its intentions from the start: “I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.” This refrain guides us through a dizzying narrative of loss, trauma, and the inexorable pull of grief. Cassandra “Cee” Williams is only 12 when her brother Wayne disappears, and though his body is never recovered, his presence consumes her life. Time pushes her forward, but the memories of that awful day reel her backwards, keeping her trapped in an ocean of regret and pain. Complicating her grief is the force of her mother’s denial, so powerful that it sows doubts in Cee herself. When a stranger bearing Wayne’s name and likeness enters her life, Cee is forced to consider the possibility that maybe, somehow, her mother is right. Against the backdrop of a deteriorating family and an uncertain way forward, Serpell constructs a painful yet poignant story about fractured pasts and hopeful futures; and, most importantly, the spaces in between."
How do you grieve an absence? From the award-winning author of The Old Drift, “a piercing, sharply written novel about the conjuring power of loss” (Raven Leilani, author of Luster).
I don’t want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.
Cassandra Williams is twelve; her little brother, Wayne, is seven. One day, when they’re alone together, there is an accident and Wayne is lost forever. His body is never recovered. The missing boy cleaves the family with doubt. Their father leaves, starts another family elsewhere. But their mother can’t give up hope and launches an organization dedicated to missing children.
As C grows older, she sees her brother everywhere: in bistros, airplane aisles, subway cars. Here is her brother’s face, the light in his eyes, the way he seems to recognize her, too. But it can’t be, of course. Or can it? Then one day, in another accident, C meets a man both mysterious and familiar, a man who is also searching for someone and for his own place in the world. His name is Wayne.
Namwali Serpell’s remarkable new novel captures the uncanny experience of grief, the way the past breaks over the present like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a story of mistaken identity, double consciousness, and the wishful—and sometimes willful—longing for reunion with those we’ve lost.