Lilly Dancyger with Esmé Weijun Wang / First Love: Essays on Friendship

The Booksmith

1727 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

From $0.00

Thu, May 16th, 2024 @ 7:00PM PDT

Booksmith is thrilled to host Lilly Dancyger at the shop for her new book, First Love: Essays on Friendship. She'll be in conversation with Esmé Weijun Wang (The Collected Schizophrenias and The Border of Paradise). Join us!

About the book

“Fiercely felt and finely etched.” – Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams 

Lilly Dancyger always thought of her closest friendships as great loves, complex and profound as any romance. When her beloved cousin was murdered just as both girls were entering adulthood, Dancyger’s devotion to the women in her life took on a new urgency—a desire to hold her friends close while she still could. In First Love, this urgency runs through a striking exploration of the bonds between women, from the intensity of adolescent best friendship and fluid sexuality to mothering and chosen family. 

Each essay in this incisive collection is grounded in a close female friendship in Dancyger’s life, reaching outward to dissect cultural assumptions about identity and desire, and the many ways women create space for each other in a world that wants us small. Seamlessly weaving personal experience with literature and pop culture—ranging from fairy tales to true crime, from Anaïs Nin and Sylvia Plath to Heavenly Creatures and the “sad girls” of Tumblr—Dancyger’s essays form a kaleidoscopic story of a life told through friendships, and an expansive interrogation of what it means to love each other. 

Though friendship will never be enough to keep us safe from the dangers of the world, Dancyger reminds us that love is always worth the risk, and that when tragedy strikes, it’s our friends who will help us survive. In First Love, these essential bonds get their due. 

Advance praise for First Love

First Love is bracing in its honesty and verve, and is as heady and intoxicating as the relationships it details. It gripped me in a tight embrace on page one and still has not let me go.” – Chloé Cooper Jones, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Easy Beauty

“This book is a goddamn marvel of a mixtape—a fervent, generous compilation of love songs brought together so that the whole is even more meaningful than its parts. First Love is poignant, ferociously smart, and unflinchingly honest.” – CJ Hauser, author of The Crane Wife

“What if our first and deepest female friendships were the real love stories? Lilly Dancyger holds open the possibility that female friendships are their own ontology, an extended flash, a magical space of being where anything is possible. It’s a dazzling array of essays.” – Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water

First Love is a feminist, fresh look at friendship: how the deep love of other women can keep us alive, thinking, and reaching for our best selves. Lilly Dancyger pulls from her own life to create raw, beautiful, and haunting essays.” – Alisson Wood, author of Being Lolita

“A soul-stirring compilation of essays about how our earliest intimacies—sisterly, friendly—so often resemble the intensity of romance, how the delineations between different kinds of relationships can blur, how if and when those relationships change or end it can feel like the most devastating heartbreak.” Electric Literature

About the authors

Lilly Dancyger is the author of the memoir Negative Space, selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards, and the editor of Burn It Down, a critically acclaimed anthology of essays on women’s anger. Dancyger’s writing has been published by Guernica, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, Longreads, The Washington Post, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and others. She lives in New York City and is a 2023 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction from The New York Foundation for the Arts. Photo by Soomin Dancyger.

Esmé Weijun Wang is the author of the New York Times-bestselling essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias and the novel The Border of Paradise, as well as the founder of The Unexpected Shape Writing Academy at Photo courtesy the author.

Please note:

  • Masks will not be required for this event, but we are limiting capacity somewhat. For that reason, we can't guarantee we'll have space for walk-ins. The best way to ensure you’ll get a seat is to order the Book + Seat ticket; you can also RSVP for a free seat right here while they last.
  • We are happy to offer *signed copies* of First Love: order a Book + Seat ticket bundle if you'd like to pick up a signed copy at the event, or order here if you just want a signed copy and no admission.
  • Safety protocols are subject to change. If we feel it is not safe to gather, as the event gets closer, we will pivot to a virtual event and your registration will remain valid.
  • Questions? Write [email protected].


Refund Policy:

No refunds or returns.

Cancellation Policy:

In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.

The Booksmith
1727 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117