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Now Lila Knows


Caribbean professor Lila Bonnard arrives in Vermont for a short-term teaching position and is forced to confront the terrible legacy of American (in)justice

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What people are saying…

“The latest novel by Elizabeth Nunez offers a thrilling and timely perspective on the immigrant experience, racism and injustice in the contemporary U.S.”
Ms. Magazine

Now Lila Knows is one woman’s confrontation of the responsibility to speak out against wrongdoing, even when the person she loves most is telling her not to. This is a story of a woman finding her voice — and in that, her power.”
Buzzfeed, One of 17 Books from Independent Publishers You Need to Read This Summer

“I fell deep, hard and fast into this book. The very first sentence slices clean and that energy continues throughout the entire story. I am amazed at Elizabeth Nunez’s capacity to paint for the reader not only Lila’s personal and political lives but her literary life, too.”
Write or Die Mag, 2022 Staff Pick

“Powerful in message . . . An engaging, warm-hearted, page-turner of a novel.”
New West Indian Guide

“The racial politics of a small town in Vermont, as seen through Lila’s eyes, provides an illuminating counterplay between Caribbean and American Blackness.”
Publishers Weekly

“As a portrait of Lila’s political and racial awakening, the novel is a grand success.”
Kirkus Reviews

An AALBC featured new book!

“In Now Lila Knows, Elizabeth Nunez has crafted an indelible saga, one that is both of the times and timeless; both personal and universal. This beautifully, masterfully written novel is at once a compelling love story, a crucial exploration of the contemporary immigrant experience, and a trenchant critique of American racism.”
—Mitchell S. Jackson, Pulitzer Prize winner, author of The Residue Years

“Timely and essential, Now Lila Knows is a luminous story of discovery and the consequences of being Black in America.”
—Bernice L. McFadden, author of The Book of Harlan

Now Lila Knows is a tale of empathy that comes at the necessary cost, however delayed, of losing one’s innocence, of trading it for a harsher, more urgent reality. By encircling the reader in what they might think they know—about America, about the Caribbean, and the spaces in between—Elizabeth Nunez challenges us to answer for ourselves not only what we know, but also what we are prepared to do. The magic of this novel is that it opens a window to Black life in America through the eyes of an immigrant. A must read.”
—Kevin Adonis Browne, OCM Bocas Prize winner, author of High Mas

Praise for Even in Paradise :

King Lear in the Caribbean—except in this novel, the flattery and deceit of Glynis (Goneril) and Rebecca (Regan) lose out to the principled, honest love of their younger sister, Corinne (Cordelia).” —O, the Oprah Magazine, 10 Titles to Pick Up Now

“An epic tale of family betrayal and manipulation couched in superbly engaging prose and peopled with deftly drawn characters. In a story structure as rhythmic as the ebb and flow of the water surrounding Trinidad and Barbados, this revisiting of the classic story of King Lear becomes a subtle, organic exploration of politics, class, race, and privilege. A dazzling, epic triumph.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred review

“[Narrator] Émile remarks on parallels to King Lear repeatedly, but there is much more to unpack here. The issue of racism is woven throughout, as are regional problems such as access to Barbados’s beaches and poverty in Jamaica’s Tivoli Gardens. This is also a celebration of the arts, culture, and natural beauty of the islands. Shakespeare’s work is a tragedy, but for Émile ‘the future shimmers before [him] full of wondrous possibilities.’ Nunez treats her source material with a deft touch, making this story impressive in its own right.” —Publishers Weekly


Lila Bonnard has left her island home in the Caribbean to join the faculty as a visiting professor at Mayfield College in a small Vermont town. On her way from the airport to Mayfield, Lila witnesses the fatal shooting of a Black man by the police. It turns out that the victim was a professor at Mayfield, and was giving CPR to a white woman who was on the verge of an opioid overdose.

The two Black faculty and a Black administrator in the otherwise all-white college expect Lila to be a witness in the case against the police. Unfortunately, Lila fears that in the current hostile political climate against immigrants of color she may jeopardize her position at the college by speaking out, and her fiancé advises her to remain neutral.

Now Lila Knows is a gripping story that explores our obligation to act when confronted with the unfair treatment of fellow human beings. A page-turner with universal resonance, this novel will leave readers rethinking the meaning of love and empathy.

Listen to Elizabeth Nunez discuss Now Lila Knows on The Black Eskimo Podcast and Diverse Voices Book Review.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Published: 6/7/22
  • IBSN: 9781636140247
  • e-IBSN: 9781636140407


ELIZABETH NUNEZ is the award-winning author of a memoir and ten novels, four of them selected as New York Times Editors’ Choices. Anna In-Between won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for an IMPAC Dublin International Literary Award. Nunez also received the 2015 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction for Not for Everyday Use; an American Book Award for Bruised Hibiscus; and a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad and Tobago National Library. Her other novels are: Even in Paradise, Boundaries, Prospero’s Daughter, Beyond the Limbo Silence, Beyond the Limbo Silence, Grace, Discretion, and When Rocks Dance. She is a cofounder of the National Black Writers Conference and executive producer of the CUNY-TV series Black Writers in America. Nunez is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, where she teaches courses on fiction writing and Caribbean women writers. She divides her time between Amityville and Brooklyn, New York. Now Lila Knows is her latest novel.

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