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"A fierce, big-hearted, unflinching debut"* novel about mothers and daughters, haves and have-nots, and the stark realities behind the American Dream *Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere A waitress at the Betsy Ross Diner, Elsie hopes her nickel-and-dime tips will add up to a new life. Then she meets Bashkim, who is at once both worldly and naive, a married man who left Albania to chase his dreams--and wound up working as a line cook in Waterbury, Connecticut. Back when the brass mills were still open, this bustling factory town drew one wave of immigrants after another. Now it's the place they can't seem to leave. Elsie, herself the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants, falls in love quickly, but when she learns that she's pregnant, Elsie can't help wondering where Bashkim's heart really lies, and what he'll do about the wife he left behind. Seventeen years later, headstrong and independent Luljeta receives a rejection letter from NYU and her first-ever suspension from school on the same day. Instead of striking out on her own in Manhattan, she's stuck in Connecticut with her mother, Elsie--a fate she refuses to accept. Wondering if the key to her future is unlocking the secrets of the past, Lulu decides to find out what exactly her mother has been hiding about the father she never knew. As she soon discovers, the truth is closer than she ever imagined. Told in equally gripping parallel narratives with biting wit and grace, Brass announces a fearless new voice with a timely, tender, and quintessentially American story. Praise for Brass "Full of humor, love, and empathy, Brass is a stunner of a debut, making us excited for all still to come from Aliu."--Nylon "Aliu writes a story of love, family, and the search for an origin story, set against the decaying backdrop of a post-industrial town."--The Millions "In mordant, biting prose, Xhenet Aliu] interweaves the stories of a mother and a daughter living in a fading Connecticut town they both hopelessly long to escape from."--HuffPost "With all-the-way-live characters, vigorous observation, combative dialogue, bravado metaphors, and ninja parsing of social class, immigrant struggles, bad behavior, and stubborn hope, Aliu has created a boldly witty and astute inquiry into the nature-versus-nurture debate, the inheritance of pain, and the dream of transcendence."--Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Xhenet Aliu's debut fiction collection, Domesticated Wild Things, and Other Stories, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. Her stories and essays have appeared in Glimmer Train, The Barcelona Review, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and an MLIS from The University of Alabama. A native of Waterbury, Connecticut, she was born to an Albanian father and a Lithuanian American mother. She now lives in Athens, Georgia, and works as an academic librarian.