Selected as one of the Most Anticipated Books of Summer 2020 by LitHub, Lambda Literary, and Playbill.
Selected by BookPage as one of the Best Books of 2020.
Selected by Chicago Tribune as one of the Best Books of Summer 2020.
In a world where everyone is inventing a self, curating a feed and performing a fantasy of life, what does it mean to be a person? With his grandly entertaining debut memoir, playwright David Adjmi explores how human beings create themselves, and how artists make their lives into art.
Brooklyn, 1970s. Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David is painfully displaced. Trapped in an insular religious community that excludes him, a self he can't
understand, and a family coming apart at the seams, he is plunged into suicidal depression by the age of eight. Through adolescence, he tries to suppress his homosexual feelings and fit in, but when pushed to the breaking point, he makes the bold decision to cut off his family, erase his past, and leave everything he knows behind. There's only one problem: who should he be? Bouncing between identities he steals from the pages of fashion magazines, tomes of philosophy, sitcoms and foreign films, and practically everyone he meets—from Rastafarians to French preppies—David begins to piece together an entirely new adult self. But is this the foundation for a life, or just a kind of quicksand?
Moving from the glamour and dysfunction of 1970s Brooklyn, to the sybaritic materialism of Reagan’s 1980s to post 9/11 New York, Lot Six offers a quintessentially American tale of an outsider
striving to reshape himself in the funhouse mirror of American culture. Adjmi’s memoir is a genre bending Künstlerroman in
the spirit of Charles Dickens and Alison Bechdel, a portrait of the artist in the throes of a life and death crisis of identity. Raw and lyrical, and written in gleaming prose that veers effortlessly between hilarity and heartbreak, Lot Six charts Adjmi’s search for belonging, identity, and what it takes to be an artist in America.
What People Are Saying
"David Adjmi has written one of the great American memoirs, a heartbreaking, hilarious story of what it means to make things up, including yourself. What do you do if you don’t get the nurturing you need at home? Is it possible that art could help fill in the gaps? A wild tale of lack and lies, galling humiliations and majestic reinventions, this touching, coruscating joy of a book is an answer to that perennial question: how should a person be?"
— Olivia Laing, author of Crudo and The Lonely City
"Every single page of Lot Six has truths on it that I had never articulated to myself, and that I recognized immediately from my own crazy head, and felt so grateful for. It feels like reading Proust. David Adjmi is a genius."
— Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
"Lot Six is a deeply moving, completely riveting tour de force. With searing wit and heartbreaking honesty, Adjmi writes about the agonizing work of building an identity, and in doing so has crafted a shimmeringly beautiful love letter to art and those of us who need it to survive. Reading it I wept with recognition, and when I finished I felt more alive—as if the book had worked some kind of magic spell on me.”
— Heidi Schreck, author of What the Constitution Means to Me and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama
"I wish no one had ever used the words 'brilliant' or 'genius' to describe anything, so I could use them for the very first time to describe this book. David Adjmi has written a transfixing, hilarious, and devastating memoir that is wholly unique. Like a match struck in the dark, it set me afire, illuminated aspects of my own self that I'd never faced. It is not often that a book possesses this much pain, humor, and power. Lot Six is a tremendous artistic achievement and truly one of the best books I've ever read."
— Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
"[Adjmi's] lifelong devotion to art as an identity-defining tool of self-expression gives the book a fervid tone that is hard to resist; his talent for laugh-out-loud funny set pieces does the rest."
— The New York Times
"In this witty and intimate memoir, a celebrated playwright considers the path that led him to his art... Through sensitive, insightful prose, Adjmi focusses on his love for his parents, his best friends, and the theatre, a thrilling and frightening object of affection capable of playing “a magic trick,” in which “ugliness was made into something achingly beautiful.”
— The New Yorker
"David Adjmi’s memoir of the journey from his conservative Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn to becoming a celebrated New York playwright, is vibrant, edgy, scenic, exciting, sensitive and funny... one of the best memoirs of the year."
— BookPage (starred review)
"Stirring...Compelling... As Lot Six assiduously charts David’s life—from early childhood through college, graduate school and his career— the book becomes an immersive experience, not unlike theater. On every page, readers are tasked with asking themselves the terrifying, beautiful question: What is the story of a life?"
— The Washington Post
"[Lot Six] touches upon something deep and complex in the human condition..."
— Chicago Tribune
(Best Books of Summer 2020)
"[Adjmi's] newly published memoir, Lot Six, as well as his 2009 play Stunning, are testament to a rapturous ability to capture the cadence and idiosyncrasies of a group never previously brought to dramatic life in mainstream culture."
— New York Review of Books
"Every page of Adjmi's memoir is stamped with the gifts of the award-winning playwright he would become. From facial expressions to floorboards, he builds scenes that stop and expand time and conjures people, himself included, in uncanny, contradictory completeness. This gimlet-eyed personal history of making and being made by art... is emotionally vast and utterly triumphant."
"Transcendent.. a sprawling journey into the tapestry of the self and an exploration of what it means to create—identity, meaning, art... Adjmi writes about his life with an agile humor that can be at once laugh-out-loud funny and laced with pathos ...Lot Six is symphonic in its scope, but reaching out to the reader with such intimacy page after page."
— Lambda Literary
"A born writer... ‘Lot Six,’ vividly portrays Adjmi's growing into a gay man in Syrian Jewish Brooklyn, and how the allure of changing roles brought him theatrical success."
"Beautiful... Extraordinarily rich... Wholly compelling and endearing ... From the first page and on every page, Adjmi's candor and humor win us over completely."
— Jewish Journal
"Raw, blunt, gripping and funny... The pain ultimately fuels his big talents as a writer."
— Jewish Week
"Highly recommended; this revealing memoir takes us beyond the facts of Adjmi’s life to probe his quest for identity and his rise as a prominent playwright and author...His vivid prose heightens a narrative that explores his search for meaning and the often challenging road to his success as an artist in America."
— Library Journal
"Adjmi weaves a tight but sprawling tapestry of immersive prose exploring what it means to shape and reshape oneself in the distorted mirror of America."
" Stunning...the most entertaining theater memoir I’ve read since Act One, the gold standard of theatrical memoirs... If Act One capped an illustrious career, Lot Six promises a higher profile for a writer who deserves it."
— New York Theatre
"Adjmi struggled mightily to reinvent himself, fulfill his artistic ambitions, and finally believe in his own talent... the author powerfully recounts pain and self-discovery. Raw revelations make for an engrossing memoir."
— Kirkus Review
"... a deeply honest, piquantly funny, and genuinely moving coming-of-age tale by a playwright whose major works...share similar characteristics."
“Lot Six” makes Adjmi’s literary talent clear to any reader who is lucky enough to pick up this memoir. Adjmi has created a full and vibrant world...reads like great, page-turning fiction."
"... soul-baring even as it entertains... Adjmi’s honest depiction of his life as a pretentious, pseudo-intellectual college student, and his subsequent coming-of-age in several definitions, is powerful whether you are familiar with his works or not."
— Baltimore Style