Publisher: AK Press
Released: September 7, 2021
This first volume of brown’s Grievers tales also launches AK Press’s new speculative fiction series Black Dawn, in which authors create alternate realities through visionary works that imagine different ways of seeing, being in, and remaking the world.
A tale of what happens when we can no longer ignore what has been lost in this world.
Grievers is the story of a city so plagued by grief that it can no longer function. Dune’s mother is patient zero of a mysterious illness that stops people in their tracks—in mid-sentence, mid-action, mid-life—casting them into a nonresponsive state from which no one recovers. Dune must navigate poverty and the loss of her mother as Detroit’s hospitals, morgues, and graveyards begin to overflow. As the quarantined city slowly empties of life, she investigates what caused the plague, and what might end it. In anguish, she follows in the footsteps of her late researcher father, who has a physical model of Detroit’s history and losses set up in their basement. She dusts the model off and begins tracking the sick and dying, discovering patterns, finding comrades in curiosity, conspiracies for the fertile ground of the city, and the unexpected magic that emerges when the debt of grief is cleared.
"Bestseller Brown (Pleasure Activism) makes her fiction debut with the powerful, emotional story of Dune, a young woman living in Detroit, Mich., in the midst of a bizarre epidemic ... The first novel in AK Press’s new Black Dawn series, which will focus on speculative fiction that expresses the values of antiracism, feminism, anticolonialism, and anticapitalism, this hits the nail on the head with its deep, moving exploration of loss, family, community, gentrification, and rapidly changing urban landscapes. It’s a strong precedent that will leave readers eager for more."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Grievers is a beautiful debut novella by adrienne maree brown, who is already one of our most important voices in Afrofuturism and true-life worldbuilding. Grievers could not be more timely, tackling loss, plague, gentrification, memory and grief with a path toward hope in a future Detroit. Each paragraph is lovingly crafted, a story unto itself, blending into a tapestry no reader will soon forget.”
—Tananarive Due, American Book Award winner, author of Ghost Summer: Stories
“Dune finds her way into our inner spaces as we read Grievers by adrienne maree brown. We are compelled to witness this precise yet unwieldy unfolding spiral of memory and resistance via survival. Grievers is the right book for right now. adrienne inspires us to be present as we try and put ourselves back together no matter how broken this world seems. There has never been a love letter to Detroit and social justice lineages like this one.”
—Ayana A. H. Jamieson, PhD founder of Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network
“This Detroit thriller/mystery written by adrienne maree brown is a story full of suspense, grief and an overwhelming sense of community that is determined to survive a city wide mysterious pandemic. Each character will remind you of a Detroit Ancestor or loving comrade in the struggle and has you question what life will be like after hell.”
—Siwatu-Salama Ra, Community daughter, Mother, Detroit community organizer, prison abolitionist
“Grievers is a haunting melody. Highly imaginative but with a gruesome practicality, Grievers illustrates the lengths one person will go to in order to have some self-determination in the midst of being desperately alone. I was filled with the deep, aching love that was woven throughout this story. When all that you know and love is gone, gone up in flames, gone mute or just gone ‘away’… you are forced to discover and draw upon all of the resources that are tucked into your family, your history, your city for resilience, self-sufficiency and the ability to truly make a way out of no way. Gritty and tender, it dug under my skin and settled into my Detroit soul.”
—Lottie Spady, Detroit activist and healer
"It's the physical grounding of Grievers that I love the most. brown is attentive to the corporeal world, its presence and processes. The novella is conscious of bodies, in life and death."
—Sessily Watt, Strange Horizons
"Arriving as it does in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Grievers is an emotionally gruelling but thoroughly necessary read, a book that does not flinch from the collective trauma experienced by everyone and especially people left without support by the state."
—Jonathan Thornton, The Fantasy Hive
Grievers is a harrowing yet cathartic read, a beautiful portrait of grief in the face of systemic failure as a pandemic turns Detroit into a city of the dead.
—Dark Intersections: Analyzing Horror Through Intersectional Feminism
"If you like speculative fiction at all, but especially if you are looking for eerie fiction tackling real subjects, I cannot recommend Grievers highly enough. It works on the levels of political world building, social commentary, science fiction, and above all, the human experience. It can be painful. It can be lonely. Sometimes, it can be beautiful."
—Cat Voleur, Divination Hollow Reviews
"Grief can end all productivity. The stranglehold of grief makes it difficult to feel and see beauty. The pain consumes you. The pain of loss, unrealized dreams, shame, regret, and guilt. We try to manage the chaos of grief while trying to function and participate in the world. We often fail. In Grievers, adrienne gives us gentle mercy for our failing and grieving."
—Ingrid LaFleur, YES! Magazine
"This is a story of how our history shapes us, the hurt and the love and all the painful and joyful parts in between."
—Wendy J. Fox, Buzzfeed Books
"Grievers beautifully shows what it’s like to live with grief—and how grief changes you—without really showing what that change might lead to, leaving the possibilities open-ended."
—Shelby Brewster, Ancillary Review
"Grievers is about a plague in Detroit, and how a young woman makes sense of it. But more than that, it is a profound meditation on grief, ritual, endurance, and the power of imagination and creation. I’ll be re-reading it for years to come."
—Imani Perry, author of South to America
adrienne maree brown is a writer living in Detroit. She is a student of the works of Octavia E. Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin. Grievers is her first novel. Her previous books include Octavia’s Brood, Emergent Strategy, Pleasure Activism, and We Will Not Cancel Us. Her visionary fiction has appeared in The Funambulist, Harvard Design Review, and Dark Mountain.