Big Girl: A Novel (Hardcover)
Exquisitely compassionate and witty, Big Girl traces the intergenerational hungers and desires of Black womanhood, as told through the unforgettable voice of Malaya Clondon.
In her highly anticipated debut novel, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan explores the perils—and undeniable beauty—of insatiable longing.
Growing up in a rapidly changing Harlem, eight-year-old Malaya hates when her mother drags her to Weight Watchers meetings; she’d rather paint alone in her bedroom or enjoy forbidden street foods with her father. For Malaya, the pressures of her predominantly white Upper East Side prep school are relentless, as are the expectations passed down from her painfully proper mother and sharp-tongued grandmother. As she comes of age in the 1990s, she finds solace in the music of Biggie Smalls and Aaliyah, but her weight continues to climb—until a family tragedy forces her to face the source of her hunger, ultimately shattering her inherited stigmas surrounding women’s bodies, and embracing her own desire. Written with vibrant lyricism shot through with tenderness, Big Girl announces Sullivan as an urgent and vital voice in contemporary fiction.
About the Author
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan, Ph.D. is the author of the novel Big Girl, a 2022 most anticipated pick from Vulture, Ms, The Root, Goodreads and SheReads.com. Her previous books are The Poetics of Difference: Queer Feminist Forms in the African Diaspora, and the short story collection, Blue Talk and Love, winner of the Judith Markowitz Award for Fiction from Lambda Literary. She is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University. A native of Harlem, she currently lives in Washington, DC.
Sullivan (the collection Blue Talk and Love) charms in her stunning debut novel about a Black girl’s coming-of-age.... All of Sullivan’s characters—even the cruel ones—brim with humanity, and the author shines when conveying the details of Malaya’s comforts, such as Biggie Smalls lyrics, the portraits she paints in her room, the colors she braids into her hair, and the sweet-smelling dulce de coco candies she eats with a classmate with whom she shares a close and sexually charged friendship. This is a treasure.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
[A] young girl learns—and redefines—what it means to take up space . . . Sullivan writes with tenderness and uses the language of poetry to communicate her protagonist’s inner life . . . A lyrical and important coming-of-age novel.
— Kirkus Reviews