AUTHOR | BRIT BENNETT
Born and raised in Southern California, Brit graduated from Stanford and earned her MFA at the University of Michigan, and also studied at Oxford University. While at Michigan, she earned a Hopwood Award for Graduate Short Fiction, and the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. The Mothers, her debut novel, was a New York Times best seller, and The Vanishing Half was longlisted for the National Book Award Prize, shortlisted for The Women’s Prize, and a #1 instant New York Times bestseller. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree in 2021 and was chosen as one of Time’s Next 100 Influential People. Her essays have been featured in many publications. The Vanishing Half has been named the best book of 2020 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, People, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Glamour.
The Vignes twins, Stella and Desiree, grew up in the 1960’s in a small Louisiana community that prided itself as being composed of light-skinned black residents. They were both tall and beautiful and dreamed for a life beyond being a rich white woman’s maid and to escape the location of their father’s lynching. They fled to New Orleans as teenagers in search of their dream. While the sisters were identical twins and best friends, their life choices split them apart. Stella realized she could pass for white and decided to leave her former life behind and live life as a white woman married to a successful businessman. She kept her true self a secret. Desiree escaped an abusive relationship and returned to her mother’s house in Mallard, LA with her daughter Jude, who was “black as tar”.
The book spans three generations and is told in flashbacks exploring themes of racism, familial bonds and what it is like to deny your authentic identity. The story of The Vanishing Half will set its claws in you and not let go until the final sentence.
The Vanishing Half was long-listed for the National Book Award in 2020 and is currently long-listed for the 2021 Women’s Prize. It was selected for The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2020 and is on its bestseller list for 45 weeks as of this writing. The movie rights were purchased by HBO in a bidding war simultaneous with the book’s release.