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Heavy: An American Memoir

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Kiese Laymon

Narrated By: Kiese Laymon

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Date: October 2018

Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes



*Winner of the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction!​

*Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and Kirkus Prize Finalist*

*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.

Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood—and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.


  • Alyssa P.

    A door opened to the life of an African American man growing up in Mississippi. No matter who you are or where you come from, when you step through this door, you see his life laid out with painful familiarity... as we are all a part of the human condition. “Heavy” couldn’t be a better title for this book! Read by the author himself. Absolutely loved listening to this book.

  • Jeremy R.

    This book was written strong...That being was okay...Being from a background of ethnicity and real struggles and unspeakable domestic violence and poverty, it was a little like a juvenile complaining that the world isn’t fair. I commend the effort of weight loss and strong education but my mans...there’s some real life brutality going on in the world. So if you’ve experienced some of it this book might bore and irritate you.

  • Nadia A.

    Heavy in every way. Also, wildly uneven a d perplexing.

Heavy: An American Memoir

by Kiese Laymon

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Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon