Naima Coster

"A quiet gut-punch of a debut, Coster’s novel is a family saga set against the landscape of gentrifying Brooklyn...Absorbing and alive, the kind of novel that swallows you whole. ★." - Kirkus Reviews

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“Coster is definitely a writer to watch.”–Jacqueline Woodson

“An exceptional debut.”–Christina Baker Kline

“A poignant, moving book written with deep empathy and sophistication.”–Ben Marcus

“A masterful tale of family failures and forgiveness.”People magazine

Selected News & Press

Praise for Halsey Street

“But where ‘Halsey Street’ most impresses is in its sharp and sophisticated moral sense. Take the issue of gentrification. In lesser hands, this could become — in many works of contemporary literary fiction, does become — ham-fisted or preachy. Coster’s treatment, though, is always gracefully done. We don’t get a fictional “take” on gentrification. Rather, we get a story that makes the phenomenon meaningful through its narrative integration…’Halsey Street’ regularly rejects simplicity for complexity. Like Woolf said of ‘Middlemarch,’ this is a novel written for grown-up people — the most surprising and satisfying element in a continually surprising and satisfying debut.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Halsey Street pays careful, detailed attention to the ways family ties can splinter and fester and ache, and the way a neighborhood that used to be familiar but no longer is creates a feeling of isolation… And Halsey Street itself offers the same attentiveness to the changing landscape of Brooklyn, and to a Bed-Stuy that is rapidly becoming unrecognizable. It’s a detailed portrait that’s almost a love letter.” —Vox

“This moving yarn gives us enchanting heroine Penelope Grand. She’s dealing with her suddenly gentrified neighborhood, which presents unwelcome surprises.” Essence

“Active erasure shows up strongly in Naima Coster’s beautiful debut novel, Halsey Street…In her portrayal of a borough that’s lost its identity, Coster paints a vivid image of a broken family that isn’t clear how to move forward, but knows that it must in order to survive. We become who we must be, particularly in times of turmoil. Brooklyn is not what it used to be, so what will it become? Halsey Street grapples with that question.” —Bitch Media

“If you're used to hearing the word 'gentrification' in every coffee shop line in your neighborhood...this one's for you. It's set in Brooklyn and gets into a serious family saga. Identity crisis included. Tissues sold separately.”—The Skimm

"Coster's realistic depictions of these two hurt and angry women and the broken man who connects them will haunt readers while making them flinch, gasp, and quite possibly cry. VERDICT Wow. Powerful, unforgettable, and not to be missed.★."Library Journal

"With great subtlety and detail, Coster has woven a tale that deals with gentrification, loneliness, and a very flawed and complex family. Penelope is deeply imperfect but remains relatable and real. As she navigates a neighborhood that was once her childhood home, as well as the location of her father’s once successful business, she and her family grieve not only for what they’ve lost but also what they have become. VERDICT This is a tender story that packs as much hurt as it does heart. Recommended for fans of Zinzi Clemmons’s What We Lose and Brit Bennett’s The Mothers.★."—School Library Journal

"In her perceptive, memorable debut, Coster reveals the personal toll that gentrification takes on one damaged Bed-Stuy family... Penelope’s status as both an insider and an outsider in her childhood home affords Coster an acute perspective from which to consider the repercussions of gentrification, as well as a family’s legacy of self-destruction." Publishers Weekly

“With this debut, Naima Coster has established herself as a major new talent of literary realism. A tale of what happens when your own past is rendered as unknowable as your future, this family story looks at all the different ways loss defines us. Brooklyn is under trial for Coster’s Grand family in a way any New Yorker can recognize, but Coster goes the additional mile to investigate the nuances of the gentrified and the gentrifiers. Race, ethnicity, and class are masterfully challenged in this narrative of self-discovery and the quest to preserve one’s heritage while honoring lifesaving transformation. A brilliant debut.” —Porochista Khakpour, author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects and The Last Illusion

“Naima Coster’s first novel is rich and flavorsome, a portrait of a Brooklyn neighborhood in decline and renewal, and of a young woman—a risk-taker, fierce and yet loving. First novels rarely come as skilled, touching, and real as Halsey Street.” —John Crowley, author of Ka and Little, Big

“Coster’s absorbing and beautifully written novel Halsey Street haunts me still. Set in two cities I love, Pittsburgh and New York, it’s both lucidly familiar and emotionally unpredictable. It’s a novel that faces head-on the complicated ways women are split between their duty to their families and their personal passions. In this deeply profound and moving story, Penelope es tremenda!” —Angie Cruz, author of Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee

“How does one gifted young woman find her life? Through a deep journey of mind, body, and spirit across cultures, classes, and city blocks. Coster’s Penelope rises and falls, flies and stumbles, and goes straight to the heart in this beauty of a debut. Get to Halsey Street as fast as you can.” —Stacey D’Erasmo, author of Wonderland

Halsey Street introduces Naima Coster as an important new voice—wise, elegant and utterly engaging. Her protagonist Penelope is a fierce yet tender heroine who must navigate modern-day Brooklyn, must learn to move between classes and countries. Coster captures the ache and longing of living life as an outsider, while also illuminating the force of history and family. A remarkable, heartbreaking debut.” —Rebecca Godfrey, author of The Torn Skirt and Under the Bridge

“A poignant and absorbing Brooklyn elegy, told by a young woman lost in the no-man’s-land between gentrifier and gentrified.” —Johanna Lane, author of Black Lake

“Naima Coster is definitely a writer to watch. Her clear-eyed writing interrogates race, class, and family in a refreshing and thoroughly engaging way. A lovely and thoughtful book.” –Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn

“In this lovely novel, Naima Coster captures, with depth and nuance, the yearnings, ambivalence, and insecurities of a woman on the brink of adulthood. In the process of healing old wounds, Penelope Grand must mend complex fractures in relationships with her estranged mother in the Dominican Republic and her father in Brooklyn. An exceptional debut that explores how to find meaning within the shifting emotions and tangled webs of connection.” —Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and Piece of the World

“This is the story of a family—which means it’s the story of imperfect and vulnerable creatures—failing at love no matter their efforts. In Halsey Street, Naima Coster shows us one young woman’s tangled efforts to return home and repair the intimacies we can hardly live without. It’s a poignant, moving book, written with deep empathy and sophistication.” —Ben Marcus, author of Leaving the Sea and The Flame Alphabet