Digging Stars: A Novel (Hardcover)
A National Book Foundation and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation 2024 Science + Literature Selection
Blending drama and satire while examining the complexities of colonialism, racism, and what it means to be American, Digging Stars probes the emotional universes of love, friendship, family, and nationhood.
With admission to The Program, an elite interdisciplinary graduate cohort at the forefront of astronomy and technology, Rosa’s dreams are finally within reach. Her research into the cosmos follows in the footsteps of her astronomer father’s revolutionary work in Bantu geometries and Indigenous astronomies. A bona fide genius, he transformed the scientific landscape by fusing the best of Western and Indigenous scientific thought. Yet since his death during her childhood, Rosa has been plagued by anxiety attacks she dubs “The Terrors”—and by unresolved questions about her father’s life. Who is his mysterious friend Mr. C? Who was her father, really?
Ambitious, hungry for success, and determined to soar, Rosa joins the ranks of America’s smartest. Her cohort of talented Fellows includes Shaniqua, her roommate, who is analyzing melanin molecules and their capacity to conduct electricity; Richard, an expert in quantum mechanics; Mausi, studying Indigenous American scientific thought; and Péralte, Rosa’s estranged stepbrother whose obsessive videogaming has inspired him to become a programmer. Her classmates challenge Rosa’s understanding of identity, personhood, the ethics of technology, and, most painfully, her adulation of her father, whose legacy is more complicated than it appears.
Digging Stars is a paean to the cosmos and a celebration of the democratic spirit of knowledge. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s characters explode the rigid matrices of the academy to prove that science, art, technology, and history are all planets orbiting the same sun.
About the Author
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is the author of the award-winning novel House of Stone and a professor of fiction at Emerson College. A native of Zimbabwe, she lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
[Digging Stars] is a smart, incisive novel that blends a gripping coming-of-age story with a poignant story about loss, all the while asking us to consider: What compromises are we willing to make to achieve our highest ambitions and how much do we owe our own history?
— Weike Wang - New York Times Book Review
Sumptuous, propulsive, and radiant. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is unafraid to scale the stars. What a liberating thrill to read this book!
— NoViolet Bulawayo, author of Glory
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s virtuosic, word-drunk sentences cast bridges across the abysses of history and the gaps between the stars. In Digging Stars, she chronicles a family’s fractures and a young woman’s determination to conquer the terrors of both outer and inner space. This is a brave and moving book.
— Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness
Digging Stars is an extraordinarily unique portrait. The real stars of this canny undoing of the hubris of settler futurism are Novuyo Rosa Tshuma’s disarmingly brilliant words.
— Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows
An utterly remarkable novel of real ambition and heft by a truly significant young writer.
— Chigozie Obioma, author of An Orchestra of Minorities
How to write a deeply felt, vividly imagined page-turner about Afrofuturism, astronomy, and astrobiology? Ask Novuyo Rosa Tshuma. Digging Stars is vital, ambitious, and reaches high as the cosmos that inspire its characters’ lives and journeys. Pulsing with energy and mystery, this is a novel you won't soon forget.
— Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Tshuma’s novel is cerebral yet passionate, a heady stew of science, family drama, and political intrigue.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)