Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2024 byThe New York Times, theLos Angeles Times,Today,Electric Literature,Alta, theChicago Review of BooksandThe Millions "Told by machines from the future, Blackburn’s idiosyncratic grief novel is as freshly devastating as they come." —The New York Times Book Review
"You can try bracing yourself for the ride this story takes you on, but it's best to just surrender. Your wig is going to fall off no matter what you do."—Saeed Jones, author ofHow We Fight for Our Lives A gut-busting and heartbreaking descent into one woman's fraying connection to reality, from a soon-to-be superstar.
Coral is the first person to discover her brother Jay’s dead body in the wake of his suicide. There’s no note, only a drably furnished bachelor pad in Long Beach, California, and a cell phone with a handful of numbers in it. Coral pockets the phone. And then she starts responding to texts as her dead brother.
Over the course of one week, Coral, the successful yet lonely author of a hit dystopian novel, Wildfire, becomes increasingly untethered from reality. Blindsided by grief and operating with reckless determination, she doubles —and triples—down on posing as her brother, risking not only her own sanity but her relationship with her precocious niece, Khadijah. As Coral’s swirl of lies slowly closes in on her, the quirky and mysterious alien world of Wildfirebecomes enmeshed in her own reality, in the process pushing long-buried memories, traumas, and secrets dangerously into the present.
A form-shifting and soul-crunching chronicle of grief and crisis, Venita Blackburn’s debut novel, Dead in Long Beach, California, is a fleet-footed marvel of self-discovery and storytelling that explores the depths of humankind’s capacity for harm and healing. With the daring, often hilarious imagination that made her an acclaimed short-fiction innovator, Blackburn crafts a layered, page-turning reckoning with what it means to be alive, dead, and somewhere in between.