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Now Lila Knows


There is nothing like racial injustice in America to teach an outsider the differences between perception and reality

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$26.95 $20.21

What people are saying…

“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

“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

“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

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

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


For Lila Bonnard, the opportunity to take a position as a visiting professor in the US has come at precisely the right time. Still nursing the wounds of one failed relationship and facing uncertainty over her current boyfriend’s marriage proposal, spending a year at a small liberal arts college in a picturesque Vermont town offers her sanity a well-deserved rest.

Within moments of her arrival, Lila is forced to face anti-immigrant mentalities and becomes a witness to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Black man—a fellow professor at Mayfield who was giving CPR to a white woman.

The three Black faculty members in the otherwise all-white, tight-lipped college expect Lila to testify in the case—but at what cost? Mistrust of outsiders, racial tensions, even outright condemnation of others who “don’t know their place” . . .  all of it comes crashing down around her as she confronts the dangers of speaking out against the police.

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

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 immigrated to the US from Trinidad after high school. She is the author of ten novels and the coeditor of the anthology Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad. Nunez received her PhD in English from New York University and is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, where she teaches creative writing.

Nunez is cofounder of the National Black Writers Conference and was executive producer for the 2004 Emmy-nominated CUNY TV series, Black Writers in America. Her awards include the 2013 National Council for Research on Women Outstanding Trailblazer Award, the 2013 Caribbean American Distinguished Writer Award, the 2012 Trinidad and Tobago Lifetime Literary Award, and more.

Nunez’s works have been nominated for numerous awards, including the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award, the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Fiction, an International Dublin Literary Award, the Trinidad and Tobago One Book, One Community selection, New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, Novel of the Year for Black Issues Book Review, an American Book Award, the Independent Publishers Book Award, and several others. Her titles have also received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Her novels Anna In-Between, Even in Paradise, Boundaries, Prospero’s Daughter, Grace, Discretion, and her memoir Not for Everyday Use are published by Akashic Books. Now Lila Knows is her latest novel.

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