If I Survive You is a blazing success. . . a profoundly authentic vision of family dynamics and racism in America…These eight stories are completely immersive, humorous yet heartbreaking….Escoffery brings an imaginative, fresh voice to his deep exploration of what it means to be a man, son, brother, father and nonwhite immigrant in America.”

—BookPage, starred review

“A ravishing début…. The book, about an immigrant family struggling to make ends meet, delights in mocking the trope of an immigrant family struggling to make ends meet…. Escoffery’s fiction is marked by ingenuity…. There’s peacocking humor, capers, and passages of shuddering eroticism. The book feels thrillingly free.”

—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker




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A major debut, blazing with style and heart, that follows a Jamaican family striving for more in Miami, and introduces a generational storyteller.

In the 1970s, Topper and Sanya flee to Miami as political violence consumes their native Kingston. But America, as the couple and their two children learn, is far from the promised land. Excluded from society as Black immigrants, the family pushes on first through Hurricane Andrew and later the 2008 recession, living in a house so cursed that the pet fish launches itself out of its own tank rather than stay. But even as things fall apart, the family remains motivated, often to its own detriment, by what their younger son, Trelawny, calls “the exquisite, racking compulsion to survive.”

Masterfully constructed with heart and humor, Jonathan Escoffery’s If I Survive You centers on Trelawny as he struggles to carve out a place for himself amid financial disaster, racism, and flat-out bad luck. After a fight with Topper—himself reckoning with his failures as a parent and his longing for Jamaica—Trelawny claws his way out of homelessness through a series of odd, often hilarious jobs. Meanwhile, his brother, Delano, attempts a disastrous cash grab to get his kids back, and his cousin Cukie searches for a father who doesn’t want to be found. As each character searches for a foothold, they never forget the profound danger of climbing without a safety net.

Pulsing with vibrant lyricism and inimitable style, sly commentary and contagious laughter, Escoffery’s debut unravels what it means to be in between homes and cultures in a world at the mercy of capitalism and white supremacy. With If I Survive You, Escoffery announces himself as a prodigious storyteller in a class of his own, a chronicler of American life at its most gruesome and hopeful.



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Advance Praise

“A ravishing début…. The book, about an immigrant family struggling to make ends meet, delights in mocking the trope of an immigrant family struggling to make ends meet…. Escoffery’s fiction is marked by ingenuity…. There’s peacocking humor, capers, and passages of shuddering eroticism. The book feels thrillingly free.”

—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

If I Survive You is a blazing success. . . . a profoundly authentic vision of family dynamics and racism in America . . . These eight stories are completely immersive, humorous yet heartbreaking. . . . Escoffery brings an imaginative, fresh voice to his deep exploration of what it means to be a man, son, brother, father and nonwhite immigrant in America.”

BookPage, STARRED review

“Not since Moby Dick has the all-American ethos of “sink or swim” on your own been dramatized to such devastating effect…If I Survive You is an extraordinary debut collection, an intensively granular, yet panoramic depiction of what it’s like to try to make it — or not — in this kaleidoscopic madhouse of a country.”

—Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“Both outrageously funny and a piercing look at life in America, If I Survive You is the kind of book you’ll think about long after you finish it.”

Real Simple

“A must-read…. Humorous, tender, and at times heartbreaking as it addresses issues surrounding love, self-identity, and race.”

—BET

“It’s rare for a story collection to break out of the gate with as much buzz as Escoffery’s debut, but his linked tales justify the unusual attention… the author exposes uncomfortable social truths with fine details, wit and dazzling verbal versatility.”

L.A. Times

“When it comes to Jonathan Escoffery and his linked story collection, If I Survive You—out now from MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux—you should absolutely believe the hype…. The prose in If I Survive You is lush and tight and precise and heartbreaking and hilarious, all at the same time, and Escoffery’s ability to capture a Jamaican-American family’s unsteady existence in and around Miami is telescopically fantastic.”

The Rumpus

“[A] quirky Miami masterpiece…. Escoffery just turned his own real-life Bullshit Jobs into entertaining literary inspiration…. Escoffery doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. But he does it in a way that’s so thoughtful, so vulnerable, so hilarious, so authentic, and with every word so perfectly placed to cleverly build suspense and intrigue and to matter, that you’ll finish it within a satisfying few sittings.”

Miami New Times

If I Survive You is one of the most refreshing fiction debuts I’ve read in years…..With effortlessly transporting language and characters that are unforgettable in their singularity, this book charmed its way into my heart, where it will stay for a long time.”

David Vogel, BuzzFeed

“With this spellbinding collection of interwoven stories, Jonathan Escoffery highlights the triumphs and tragedies of life as an ambitious American man of Jamaican descent, hailing from everywhere but belonging nowhere…. If I Survive You is an illuminating and witty debut from an author with an incredibly distinctive voice.”

—Apple Books

“Extraordinary…. There are plenty of signs Jonathan Escoffery’s debut is something special: the instantly endearing characters, the artful storytelling, the tightly spun sentences, the humor, the detail, the windows into places and situations hidden to most of us. But perhaps most impressive is the way these linked stories about a working-class Jamaican family living in Florida inspire a skillfully engineered emotional reaction. One left me floored, another broke my heart, and yet another made me gasp….To be clear, If I Survive You has well-crafted moments of horror and suspense, but this is literary fiction at its most engaging, satisfying, and affecting.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Jonathan Escoffery’s radiant collection of linked stories, If I Survive You, may well be the buzziest debut of 2022. . . . In crystalline prose, Escoffery evokes the fluorescent textures of Miami, tapping Caribbean traditions, immigrant aspirations, and familial and communal bonds.”

—Hamilton Cain, Oprah Daily

“Escoffery’s debut of interconnected short stories confirms his already prize-winning status.”

—Booklist, STARRED review

“A revelatory work…told in a distinctive voice, this contemplation of identity, culture, & race in the US today is highly recommended.”

Library Journal STARRED review

“Escoffery’s already much-lauded novel-in-stories traces the turns and tribulations of a Jamaican American family in Miami — multifaceted tales of identity, displacement, and odd jobs (what happens on Craigslist does not stay on Craigslist) interwoven into a loose, vibrant whole.”

Entertainment Weekly

“[Escoffery is] a gifted, sure-footed storyteller, with a command of evocative language and perfectly chosen details…. Perhaps most important, he wields a disarming, irreverent sense of humor, as when Trelawny’s brother tells him he’s ‘been acting like a bum.’ ‘I took no offense,’ Escoffery writes, ‘but clarified, I identify as dispossessed.’ It could be this writer’s credo, and it’s the kind of line that makes me eager to read him for a long time to come.”

The New York Times

“A deeply engrossing saga about a Jamaican-American immigrant family, this collection grips you with a ferocity that never once falters…this is ultimately a story about buoyancy, resilience, and the passion it takes to stay alive.”

Melissa Sagendorph, Harvard Book Store

“A remarkable debut collection of interconnected stories centered on a family of Jamaican immigrants, whose American-born son struggles to establish his place and his identity.”

—StarTribune

“I laughed and I cringed when reading this memorable debut by an author set to have a huge literary career.”

—Tomi Obaro, BuzzFeed News

“A worldly writer with a heartfelt, impactful debut book. If I Survive You is a collection of connected stories exploring this country’s glaring racial disparities and the searing experience of any individual who’s been gazed at with the wary question: What are you? Escoffery traces the complexities and frustrations of identity and belonging as he navigates the fate of a Jamaican American family in Miami. His emotional intelligence complements his extraordinary craftsmanship.”

—Yvonne Conza, L.A. Review of Books

“The ‘if of If I Survive You is a harrowing conditional: In Jonathan Escoffery’s debut — a collection of linked stories that travel from 1970s Kingston to present-day America — crises political, fiscal, personal, and meteorological assail a Jamaican family…. In prose that spans various voices and dialects—Jamaican patois, the Queen’s English—Escoffery illuminates the ties that bind its strivers to each other through pain, reckoning, arboricide, and maybe even redemption.”

Vulture

“A sharp and inventive debut . . . [Escoffery’s] writing is clever, commanding, and flexible . . . A fine debut that looks at the complexities of cultural identity with humor, savvy, and a rich sense of place.”

Kirkus Reviews STARRED review

“In this brilliant debut, Escoffery links stories that reveal the lives of Topper, Sanya, and their two young sons, who leave Jamaica together in the 1970s. As the boys grow up, the family reckons with the realities of life in the United States as Black immigrants—and they do it with gumption, hope, and lots of humor.”

Alta

“[A] vibrant and varied debut . . . This charged work keeps a tight hold on the reader.”

Publishers Weekly STARRED review

“This brilliant debut charts, in linked stories, one Jamaican family’s fate before, during, and mostly after Andrew, a 1992 Category 5 hurricane that leveled entire Miami neighborhoods. With its narrative arcs and tender, searching themes, Escoffery provides a master class in technique, twirling gracefully among his characters’ many conflicts and needs.”

O Magazine

“[A] lively debut collection…. Framed by the conditional ‘if’ but stylistically sure-footed and concrete, If I Survive You binds the caustic with the aching of a character keenly aware of the world’s vivid underinvestment in his future yet determined to keep going.”

Alta

“Escoffery paints a vivid picture of the first-generation perspective by scrutinizing the cultural differences between children who are born stateside and their parents who are not, and the complex ways this impacts their relationships. The result is a revealing, often humorous and somewhat twisted collection of stories that are as engrossing as they are memorable.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Escoffery has a penchant for worldbuilding, with stories that contain characters as rich and exuberant as the real world has to offer. They read like people you could really befriend, with personal histories full of idiosyncrasies and quirks that illustrate lives that are full and expanding. If I Survive You is a collection of connected stories centered on a Jamaican family trying to survive in Miami as they face racism, financial hardship, natural disasters, bad luck and other tumult.”

—KQED

“Escoffery’s sentences push boundaries and create a symphony of language — breaking the rules of writing while showing his mastery of them. Each chapter takes on a different style, and readers may sense they were witnessing the emergence of a master stylist…. If I Survive You is a lovely and complicated portrait of masculinity in one Jamaican-American family. Escoffery writes with great care and empathy for his main characters, and in doing so he reveals the richness of feeling that comes with the desire to run away.”

Boston Globe

“Weaving in patois, and varying points of view, these novelistic linked short stories by Jonathan Escoffery follow a Jamaican family from Kingston to the beaches and urban sprawl of Miami.”

Vanity Fair

“Jonathan Escoffery’s sharp debut explores longing and belonging through a series of intertwined stories focusing on one family’s quest to find home.” 

TIME

“Escoffery’s striking debut novel-in-stories shuttles between Jamaica and America, where a young man receives direct and indirect lessons about his identity. He’s as existentially storm-ravaged as the Miami neighborhood where he spends much of his time, and Escoffery is canny at shifting styles and tones to capture the variety of classes and communities his hero struggles to navigate.”

L.A. Times

“Kaleidoscopic, urgent, hilarious, revelatory and like nothing you’ve read before. These are the stories that we never believed could be told, until Jonathan Escoffery told them.”

—Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings

“An electrifying, enthralling debut about identity and belonging. Jonathan Escoffery illuminates both beauty and trauma and the ways in which so many of us Jamaicans are still looking for home within ourselves. Told with humor and clear-eyed grace, this spectacular collection introduces us to an amazing new voice.” 

—Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun and Patsy

If I Survive You is a collection of connected short stories that reads like a novel, that reads like real life, that reads like fiction written at the highest level. This is a compelling hurricane of a book that sweeps the past, present and future together into one inextricable knot. This is where Jonathan Escoffery’s career begins. There are no limits to where he will go.”

―Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

If I Survive You is simply one of the best debut story collections I’ve ever read. Unmistakably original, improbably accomplished, If I Survive You earns Jonathan Escoffery the attention deserved of an important new author.” 

—Mat Johnson, author of Pym

If I Survive You is a collection of brilliant wit, real heart, and electric humor. Jonathan Escoffery masterfully mines from his life and emerges, in this debut, as a talent not to be ignored.” 

—Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black

“A magnificent debut collection. It’s astonishing what Jonathan Escoffery accomplishes in If I Survive You. These stories are told with such grace, humor, insight, and precision that readers will want to return again and again. Escoffery is a writer to watch, and we lovers of literature are fortunate to have him.”

—Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast A Shadow

“Jonathan Escoffery writes the Miami I know–where shimmering landscapes and glitzy neon give way to immigrant hustle, financial scams, and societal and family tensions gathering force quietly like the eye of a hurricane. Escoffery is a keen and witty observer with range and style. An exciting new voice.”

—Gabriela Garcia, author of Of Women and Salt

“Jonathan Escoffery’s brilliant first book has some new things to tell us about racial identities, loneliness, and the search for love. It is so sharp-eyed and detailed that you feel that you are living through its scenes. The book is father-haunted and often very funny, and its prose is electric with intelligence. Somehow If I Survive You manages to be scary, humorous, and heartbreaking all at once. I loved this book.”

—Charles Baxter, author of The Sun Collective

“It’s truly a feat that a book of short stories tackling such big stuff—family, love, violence, race—could be so damn funny. Jonathan Escoffery is a writer only just getting started, and his first book is a welcome reminder of what fiction can do.”

—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

“Each story in If I Survive You passes a baton to the next, though it’s not for speed but for deepening. As Jonathan Escoffery’s debut progresses, the characters layer, stories overlap, voices gather and the result is a moving and layered portrait of a family, at once wise and unflinching.” 

—Aimee Bender, author of The Butterfly Lampshade

“These are superb stories about identity, family and place. There is a beautiful economy in the telling that never sacrifices the depth, complexity and richness of the worlds these characters inhabit. Jonathan Escoffery’s is a strong, much needed new voice in our literature.” 

—Percival Everett, author of The Trees

“Plimpton Prize winner Escoffery links together smart, penetrating scenarios to tell the story of a Jamaican family striving to make it in Miami . . . A standout work, fresh, original, and beautifully written.” 

—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Top Spring/Summer Debuts of 2022)

“Superb . . . If I Survive You stands out, and not only for its characters’ journeys and tender, searching themes; the collection is also a master class in technique.” 

—Hamilton Cain, OprahDaily

“Delicately crafted with irony and love, these linked stories explore the home and a sense of belonging in an age governed by the caprice of whiteness and capitalism.”

The Millions


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