Anne Tyler and Zadie Smith

Six Degrees of Separation | Anne Tyler to Zadie Smith

Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate. Each month, everyone starts with the same book and we see where our links take us.

The starting book this month is Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. I haven’t read this one (or any Anne Tyler, actually) – but judging by the Goodreads description, it’s about a reclusive man whose careful routines are disrupted by a teenager showing up at his door claiming to be his son.

Another book that made it onto the 2020 Booker Prize Longlist, like Redhead, is Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid. I really enjoyed this compelling debut – through nuanced characters and a simple plot, Reid exposes the difficulties of talking about race with well-meaning white people.

There seems to have been a flurry of books with ‘fun’ in the title in recent years, and another one I read and enjoyed was The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, charting the dynamics of a middle-class, suburban midwestern family over five decades. There was a lot of criticism for this novel being over-long and self-indulgent, but I enjoyed sinking into this one with all its complex and nuanced familial relationships.

I adore novels that take us through the expanse of a lifetime, and The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne is one such deeply affecting and achingly funny and sad read, starting in 1940’s Ireland and taking us through New York City in the 1980s AIDS epidemic and beyond.

I’ve never written about theatre on here, but is another one of my great loves, and since this exists in a play text, I think it counts for the purposes of this post – one of the most moving and devastating plays I’ve ever seen is Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, which takes place in New York in the 80s and also charts the effects of AIDS on the story’s protagonists. When such a time comes that we can enjoy live theatre again, I hope more audiences get the chance to see it.

So while we’re on the topic of adaptations, I’ll end with Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, her 2000 debut novel charting the friendship of WWII veterans living in London, and is an epic exploration of modern British life and the racial and cultural dynamics at play. The novel was adapted both in a 2002 BBC serialised drama, and taken to the stage in London a few years ago.

Thanks for reading my February Six Degrees!

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