An arresting debut about being young, black and male in today's America.
'A blistering debut . . . Hilarious and compelling, Holmes offers up a mirror to contemporary society . . . a compassionate and powerful exploration of how race, friendship and sex intersect and the real-world consequences of stereotypes.' - Independent Summer Reads
Both humorous and heart-breaking, How Are You Going To Save Yourself is a timely debut about sex, race, family and friendship for fans of Junot Diaz and Ta-Nehisi Coates. It explores the lives of four friends from the city of Pawtucket: Rydell, Lazarus, Rakim, and Giovanni, or more affectionately Rye, Dub, Rolls, and G. Once bound together by location and shared experience, their bonds fade and change as their adult lives begin to take different shapes. They are confronted with society's expectations of them, family pressures, and ultimately the way they see themselves - sometimes conforming, sometimes challenging the stereotypes. Ultimately they are trying not to fail themselves and the people they love.
J.M. Holmes won the Burnett Howe prize for fiction at Amherst College, received fellowships at the Iowa Writer's Workshop and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. He's worked in educational outreach in Iowa, Massachusetts and Pawtucket. His stories have appeared in the Paris Review and HOW Journal. How Are You Going To Save Yourself is his debut.
A powerful rendering of contemporary masculinity in America. — TLS
A blistering debut . . . Hilarious and compelling, Holmes offers up a mirror to contemporary society . . . a compassionate and powerful exploration of how race, friendship and sex intersect and the real-world consequences of stereotypes. — Independent summer reads
'These are images of life that tantalisingly glimmer, treading the line between humour and pathos, offering sharp insights into the black American experience. Holms has been compared to Junot Diaz and Ta-Nehisi Coates, but he is a distinctive writer in his own right. Spare in style, strikingly urgent, his is a voice to get excited about.' — Guardian
Buckle up! JM Holmes's debut grabs you with the first sentence anddoesn't let go till it drops you gasping after the last period. This collection offers a tough and heartbreaking vision of masculinity, as powerful as it is uncomfortable. But boy is it worth the ride. — Ayana Mathis, New York Times Bestselling author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Holmes has a deft touch with his writing; the enviable tender ability of capturing the ordinary, and the complex, and telling you as if you were two old friends sitting down for a catch up. — JJ Bola
Holmes' searing study of masculinity is offset by irresistible heart and biting humour — Entertainment Weekly
JM Holmes writes like someone told him Denis Johnson and Mat Johnson were brothers. These stories are as ferocious and fearless as those of his heroes. — James Hannaham, PEN/Faulkner Award winner for Delicious Foods
JM Holmes is not just a new voice but a new force: honest, urgent, compelling, often hilarious, and more often gut-wrenching. In How Are You Going to Save Yourself, he writes with remarkable compassion and intelligence about characters whose own compassion and intelligence sometimes betray them. Comparisons to Junot Díaz and Denis Johnson are perhaps inevitable, but I imagine they'll prove short-lived; in a few years we'll be comparing writers to JM Holmes. — Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
It is a rare gift to us all when a writer's talents and subject command equal attention, but that is just what we have here in JM Holmes's superb debut, How Are You Going to Save Yourself. Written in spare, colloquial, and deeply evocative prose, these linked stories capture the contemporary lives of young men trying to find their way in this world, young men who also happen to be black in a post-industrial, ever-changing cultural landscape. These powerful stories herald the rise of an important and timely new voice among us, and I will now look for anything by JM Holmes. — Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days
[A] crackling debut . . . Holmes proves his ability to navigate vulnerability, as well as his fearlessness in tackling tense situations head-on, all of which combines for a collection of superb stories. — Publishers Weekly
Fresh and his dialogue rings true . . . Readers looking for timely, nuanced fiction about race and masculinity should definitely pick this up — Booklist