We all know a person who every now and then starts a sentence with “I’m not a racist, but…” when what they really want to say is “I was not comfortable in that situation”. No one wants to be a racist, yet it is all over the place. Kiley Reid has written a marvelous novel about how the woke liberal elite addresses race. If you need further convincing, Such a Fun Age has also been making the rounds as Reese Witherspoon’s book club favorite (also screen rights sold already).
I had a vague notion of this novel (because Witherspoon and Instagram), but really had no idea what to expect, except that it seemed very millennial, very in the moment (one of the main characters is a blogger influencer) and had received good reviews.
It was a snack of a book, an easy read in two days, but this is not to say that it would have been an awkwardly written chick lit-ey deal. It was actually brilliantly written and very enjoyable. There was some slight clumsiness in the plot, but what was really very good was the undercurrent of the role of race, white privilege and how it manifests itself in the 21st century.
Such a Fun Age is not a novel just about race, though. It is a millennial update of some of the age-old mannerisms that relate to questions of class, feminism, friendship, marriage, motherhood and family. As the protagonist Emira is fresh out of college, the story is also about women’s professional ambition and how we are expected to manifest it in an appropriate manner.
This is absolutely not a blog post about Meghan Markle, the issue is much bigger than her, but read against the backdrop of the ongoing, devastatingly vitriolic hunt to bring her down forever, Such a Fun Age does pack some extra punch.
(Because this is not a post about Meghan, let’s just add for the record that my view remains as before: her story was narrated much before her wedding, she will never do anything right whatever she will do because she is wrong, and the press will never leave her in peace.)
(I hope she cherishes the memory of the one time she wore the compulsory 10den semi-sheer tights to an outing with the Queen – as somebody observed, the next time Meghan is likely to put on such a funky little garment shall be the occasion of playing herself in the Crown.)
Back to our agenda, Such a Fun Age is a good read. It is Kiley Reid’s first novel. She has inevitably been compared to Sally Rooney (will she be the next Sally Rooney??) I like to think Such a Fun Age as a contemporary Meisterstück that pokes at all the right issues, acts a bit like a literary litmus and should be essential reading also for those not members of Witherspoon’s book club.
Which shall be the topic of my next post – book clubs.