Book Review | The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng

Book Review | The Other Me by Sarah Zachrich Jeng

Kelly walks through a door on her twenty-ninth birthday and finds herself in another life. A moderately-successful Chicago-based artist, she suddenly finds herself married and living the suburbs. The problem is, she has all the memories of both lives coalescing in her mind, and no idea about how she got there.

‘The possibility of my entire history ceasing to exist, of it never having existed, induces a dreamlike horror that stops up my throat. I can’t speak.’

She remembers, for example, that she loves her husband, Eric. She knows the name of her nieces and nephews that do not exist in her ‘real’ life. She knows the contents of all the cupboards in her suburban kitchen. But at the same time, she has the memories of her Chicago life – her best friend, Linnea. Her cat and roommates. Her beloved art studio. Experiencing, understandably, a profound sense of disorientation, she bolts to Chicago when Eric has gone to work, desperate to retrace her steps and find any traces of the life that was once hers. It’s a slow burn mystery, and I was intrigued to see how it would play out within the confines of the genre.

‘What I’m searching for is some emotional connection to the life I find myself living. But even with my entire history laid out in front of me, I’m unable to feel that it’s mine.’

The narrative gets even more interesting when the two timelines appear to begin to bleed into one another – Kelly’s tattoos begin to appear on her arms, before fading immediately. Photos disappear and reappear on the walls. And there’s a general unease about Eric, too. He seems almost too perfect – and those of us acquainted with a thriller know that can only mean one thing.

It’s a great concept, and compelling reading for the first 60% or so. I haven’t read anything with this premise, so to me, at least, it felt like a refreshing take on a manipulative relationship. My main problem was that it was sort of sci-fi, sort of thriller – without accomplishing either entirely effectively. Taking on a sci-fi concept, like this, requires real finesse. I’ve never read anything that falls into the science-fiction without the science category (though if this is a well-established genre, I stand corrected!) and to me the light-touch on how the time travel actually worked just left too many plot holes for me to truly buy in to the concept.

This may not be a deal breaker for other readers, and this book certainly had its merits. I just wish there was a little more of an investment in the details for the world-building and central premise to be fully and effectively executed.

With thanks to Berkley Books for the advanced copy. The Other Me will be published on August 10th, 2021.

Han Kang - Human Acts Book Review

Book Review | Human Acts by Han Kang

It’s 1980, and a country has turned against its people. In Gwangju, South Korea, Dong-ho staffs the municipal gymnasium, tending to the bodies of the dead. “Apparently all the dead will be brought here from now on,” he is told. “They say there’s no room left in the morgues.” A brutal crackdown in response to a call for democracy, where hundreds (or thousands – a disputed figure in the history books) are massacred. Some of them, like Dong-ho, are children. Dong-ho is only fifteen, and he peers into the faces of the dead, desperately searching for his friend Jeong-dae.

‘Why would you sing the national anthem for people who’d been killed by soldiers? […] As though it wasn’t the nation itself that had murdered them.’

What follows are vignettes from those who play a part in Dong-ho’s story, charting the reverberating effects of brutality as the decades wane on – from 1980 to the 2010s. It’s at times excruciating to read, but you also can’t look away. In a particularly difficult-to-read chapter, Jeong-dae is a corpse, rotting on a pile. If you’ve read Han Kang’s critically acclaimed (Booker International-winning) The Vegetarian, you’ll know she doesn’t shy away from gut-wrenching, visceral corporality.

‘When they threw a straw sack over the body of the man at the very top, the tower of bodies was transformed into the corpse of some enormous, fantastical beast, its dozens of legs splayed out beneath it.’

But what awaits those imprisoned is almost a fate worse than death; they are met with incessant torture and near-starvation. It’s unthinkable: that this is not ancient history and that a military inflicted such violence against its own people. Later chapters chart the course of an editor grappling with censorship, a mother grieving the loss of her son – before a full circle to Han Kang’s first person narration, as she explains her personal connection to this horrifying piece of history.

It’s sparingly told, but brutally so. There is an understated lyricism in Han Kang’s prose – and Deborah Smith’s translation – where the effects of traumatic experiences linger on the body – and on the means we have to express our trauma.  

‘Gasping for breath in these interstices, tiny islands among language charred out of existence.’

‘The interrogation room of that summer was knitted into our muscle memory, lodged inside our bodies.’

Han Kang is ingenious with perspective, slipping between first, second, and third person perspective. The second-person chapters lend a particularly galling sense of immediacy to the narrative. The devastation is unfurling in real time, and we are a very real part of it.

It feels important to read books like these, to remember the inhumanity we are capable of, but also the humanity. To know that these things happen, decade after decade, all over the world. There are three reasons to tell these stories, one of the characters tells us. ‘Testimony. Meaning. Memory.’

CW/TW for torture, sexual violence

Book Review | Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Book Review | Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

This collection of short stories – simultaneously full of caustic humour and emotional devastation – is very clever. And I don’t mean clever in a trying-to-be-clever way, in a way that’s itching after English-student dissection and critic bamboozlement and literary prizes. Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s debut is highly attuned to the intricacies of love, in all of its many incarnations, and plays with surreal and off-beat turns of plot and genre.

Like in any collection, there are stories that worked better than others. I admire Bob-Waksberg’s playing with form, from rhyming couplet long-form poems to lists, but the ones that worked best for me were a little more traditional in their approach. In ‘A Most Blessed and Auspicious Occasion,’ a couple take on wedding planning in a short story that manages to satirize the wedding industry in an alternative universe where how many goats to slaughter during the ceremony to how long the wailing chorus should lament to how much to spend on a promise egg are the central preoccupations of everyone around them. Bob-Waksberg manages simultaneously to issue a critique of capitalism and tradition, all while being laugh-out-loud funny.

In a story that felt very much like a short film, ‘Missed Connection – m4w’ shows a man falling in love with a woman he sits across from on the Brooklyn Q train, ‘in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you’re looking at and fall in love with that person.’ Whilst working up the courage to say something to her, the years melt into decades, and still they ride the train back and forth on the same line – neither ever summoning the strength to speak.

‘For months we sat on the train saying nothing. We survived on bags of Skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams. We must have heard a million mariachi bands, had our faces nearly kicked in by a hundred thousand break-dancers. I gave money to the panhandlers until I ran out of singles. When the train went aboveground I’d get text messages and voice mails (“Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?”) until my phone battery ran out.’

There is such an intense and yet understated lyricism to the way these stories cut open affairs of the heart, in both romantic and familial love. In ‘You Want To Know What Plays Are Like?’, a sister goes to her playwright brother’s opening night, only to discover the play is an excavation of their childhood which doesn’t portray her in the most flattering light. The second-person narration (which Bob-Waksberg does so well) describes her feeling like ‘The Museum of You is now open for business, every piece of you hung up on a wall, laid bare on a table, harshly lit and awkwardly described.’ He’s economical with words, and yet they perfectly encapsulate our deepest vulnerabilities.

‘…There remains one place more than any other you know you can never return to. You know where it is and you go out of your way to not see it, to not be reminded of the thing that happened there. It’s too much, this place. It would swallow you whole, this void, this pit, this unassuming two-story brownstone in Carroll Gardens that houses the one-bedroom apartment a much younger you and the man now listed in your phone as “DO NOT CALL HIM” were ever so foolish as to refer to as “home.”’

There are more I could talk about – ‘Rufus’, narrated from the perspective of a dog trying to communicate with his owner. ‘The Serial Monogamist’s Guide to Important New York City Landmarks,’ where too many places in the city bring back memories of failed relationships, ‘tragic victims of your fickle heart’. ‘Move across the country,’ a quietly devastating exploration of running away from Sadness, personified. But this is not a necessarily pessimistic excavation of love. In its propulsive and gut-wrenching way, it feels honest and unflinching and, ultimately, kind of hopeful. Dare I call it one of the most brilliant short story collections I’ve ever read?

‘And when the morning comes, our love like bugs will scatter in the light.’

4.5*

Six Degrees of Separation | Douglas Stuart to Zakiya Dalila Harris

Six Degrees of Separation is hosted by Kate. Each month, everyone starts with the same book and we see where our links take us. This month’s starting book is Booker-prize-winning Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, which sets the tone for the rest of this list – brace yourself for a heavy one…

I’ve not yet read Shuggie Bain, partly because I am working up the emotional strength to do so. It’s the story of a young boy growing up on a council estate in 80’s Glasgow in a dysfunctional family. I’ve just seen that Roxane Gay compared it to A Little Life, one of my top 10 books of all time, so now I have to read it.

For another gritty novel set in 80’s Scotland, my mind goes to Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting (a bestselling novel before it was made into the film starring Ewan McGregor). It’s about a group of heroin addicts and those on the fringe of society, and it’s compelling and horrifying and darkly funny. It’s also written in Scottish dialect, which leads me to…

A Clockwork Orange – the only other book that I can recall reading that is written in dialect. The opening line – for those who haven’t read it – contains the sentence ‘we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.’ Anthony Burgess’s masterpiece – first published in the 60s – is a nightmarish vision of a future with a violent gang of boys, led by ringleader Alex, perpetuating ‘ultra-violence’. Not for everyone, it’s nevertheless a linguistic tour-de-force.

I once switched on the TV when the film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was about to begin, and as the opening credits rolled, I turned it off. I’d read the book, and the thought of seeing the violence on the page depicted to the screen was too much for me. And I felt exactly the same about The Handmaid’s Tale watching Margaret Atwood’s dysoptian and intensely misogynistic world on the screen – having read the classic novel – was just not how I wanted to spend an evening, so I gave the TV adaptation a pass.

In an attempt to shift gears away from the brutally hard-hitting, Margaret Atwood won last year’s Booker Prize in conjunction with the phenomenal Bernadine Evaristo, for her polyphonic and expansive novel Girl, Woman, Other. If you’ve not read that one yet – bring it to the top of your TBR! It’s a true achievement.

Finally, although there are 1001 books with ‘girl’ in the title that I could have picked from for this connection, in the spirit of uplifting new publishing and shining a spotlight on institutional racism is Zakiya Dalila Harris’s The Other Black Girl. It’s a biting social commentary about race in contemporary America, and will be published this summer.

Thanks for reading my April Six Degrees!

Top Ten Tuesday | Books on my Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a TBR, and I always feel a little nervous committing to paper what’s on my immediate TBR – it’s a bit of a moveable feast. But in the spirit of shouting about some exciting-sounding books, here we go. (Abbreviated blurbs pulled from Goodreads).

Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society. With writing that scorches and mesmerizes, Taddeo illustrates one woman’s exhilarating transformation from prey into predator.”

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World byElif Shafak

“Our brains stay active for ten minutes after our heart stops beating. For Leila, each minute brings with it a new memory. Most importantly, each memory reminds Leila of the five friends she met along the way – friends who are now desperately trying to find her…”

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

“This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.”

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

“Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.”

Someone who will love you in all your damaged glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

“From the creator and executive producer of the beloved and universally acclaimed television series BoJack Horseman, a fabulously off-beat collection of short stories about love — the best and worst thing in the universe.”

Human Acts by Han Kang

“An award-winning, controversial bestseller, Human Acts is a timeless, pointillist portrait of an historic event with reverberations still being felt today, by turns tracing the harsh reality of oppression and the resounding, extraordinary poetry of humanity.”

Kinder than Solitude by Yiyun Li

“A breathtaking page-turner, Kinder Than Solitude resonates with provocative observations about human nature and the virtues of loyalty. In mesmerizing prose, and with profound philosophical insight, Yiyun Li unfolds this remarkable story, even as she explores the impact of personality and the past on the shape of a person’s present and future.”

Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X. Kendi

“An epoch-defining history of African America, the first to appear in a generation, Four Hundred Souls is a chronological account of four hundred years of Black America as told by ninety of America’s leading Black writers.”

Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis

“In Word Freak, Stefan Fatsis introduces readers to those few, exploring the underground world of colorful characters for which the Scrabble game is life. More than a book about hardcore Scrabble players, Word Freak is also an examination of notions of brilliance, memory, language, competition, and the mind that celebrates the uncanny creative powers in us all.”

Insatiable by Daisy Buchanan

Insatiable is about women and desire – lust, longing and the need to be loved. It is a story about being unable to tell whether you are running towards your future or simply running away from your past. The result is at once tender and sad, funny and hopeful.”

What’s coming up on your Spring TBR? Have you read any of the above? Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review | The Divines by Ellie Eaton

Isn’t it funny how our schooldays can haunt us, years – decades – after they’re gone? For Josephine, her time at elite English boarding school, St John the Divine, is a shadow she can’t shake. Even now, living in L.A. and married to an ‘overwhelmingly decent man’, her time as a ‘Divine’ remains an unspoken history. Through a dual narrative, we return to those heady days of nineties’ girlhood at St John, as Josephine – known to her schoolfriends as Joe – slowly unpacks and unravels the fateful events that came to pass.

There is gulf of privilege that separates the Divines in their ‘ivory tower’ and the townies, residents of the local area, for whom the school is both loathed and derided and also an essential source of employment. The townies see the Divines as a ‘stuck-up, supercilious bunch of trust funders’, completely oblivious to the real ways of the world. So when Joe half-accidentally befriends a townie, Lauren, neither of them really know how to behave around each other. Lauren’s world – alcoholic father, mother with a long-term illness, and having to work two jobs alongside school to help out with the bills – is an alien existence to Joe, who’s mocked by Lauren’s family for her plummy speech and affected manners.

With astute psychological insight, Eaton lays bare the female teenage experience in an unflinching way. She captures the awkwardness of teenagerhood so well, the utterly unbearable feeling of inhabiting a changing body, the unease of being in your own skin. She pores over the oscillating dynamics of female friendship, the pain of being ostracised from a group, the desperation to fit in. Selfhood is constantly malleable, the way the girls are perceived and perceive each other. Eaton describes Joe as ‘self-obsessed, too caught up in my own narrative to care about anyone but myself’ – and has there ever been a more accurate description of teenagerhood?

It’s told with the haze of 90s nostalgia, but it’s a nostalgia intermingled with a growing sense of foreboding, of dread. We know that a terrible, tragic event occurred at the school – an event that has haunted Joe throughout her life. And yet despite this, she draws us a picture that feels so real, and the nostalgia so poignant –

‘…the camaraderie of school life. The sensation of having my knee tickled, my hair stroked, the weight of an arm linked through my own. The complete indifference to the outside world. The jokes, the rumours, the secrets.’

We come to find that there is a dissonance between past and present, between fiction and reality. Josephine’s attempt to reconcile her version of events with what happened on those fateful days takes her back to St John – the school has long since been dissolved and buildings turned into flats, a dentist’s office – for a reunion. She hopes to gain some kind of closure, self-composure, and the ability to finally put the events of that fateful year to bed.

‘What am I supposed to tell him? That, since becoming a mother, I exist in a state of perpetual unease. That the world seems to me overwhelmingly dangerous and chaotic. How of all the multitudinous threats posed to him and the baby—earthquakes, rising sea levels, drunk drivers, melanomas, pandemics, zealots with semiautomatics—it’s something else I’m most afraid of. The past, slowly coiling around us, the snake in the crib.’

It’s completely absorbing, a slow-burn piece of literary fiction that grapples with the nature of memory, history, and selfhood. It’s also beautifully written in suspenseful, taut prose. While the ending might not be to everyone’s taste, I felt it worked perfectly within the context of the novel and its nuanced, complex narrative. Highly recommended.

Pairings of fiction and non-fiction books

So, I initially wanted to participate in this as part of non-fiction November, but life happened – five months later, here I am! I really enjoyed reading other readers’ pairings last year, and I love the concept.

Meng Jing, ‘Little Gods’ and Mei Fong, ‘One Child’

Mei Fong’s One Child – subtitled ‘The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment’ blew me away. Mei Fong offers a nuanced and striking examination of the (in)famous one-child policy in China, the world’s largest experiment in social engineering. She dissects the long-reaching, and sometimes surprising, human impact of this policy and how it has shaped families and relationships for generations to come. And the fact that Meng Jin’s protagonist of Little Gods, Liya, is an only child – though not as a direct result of the one-child policy – shapes her life and the way she connects with her heritage. Having been raised in the U.S., Liya returns to China after the death of her mother, anxious to trace the fragile threads of her family history and with no known living relatives. In doing so, she weaves through and dissects contemporary Chinese history in a poetic, insightful and moving way. Both are must-reads for anyone with an interest in modern China.

Lauren Oyler, ‘Fake Accounts’ and Jia Tolentino, ‘Trick Mirror’

Now, I wouldn’t usually give a 3-star read more airtime than what it took to read and review. But Fake Accounts is hot off the press and has drawn plenty of praise, and just because it did dazzle me doesn’t mean it doesn’t have something to say. It’s a fictional mediation, via our unnamed protagonist, on the lives we construct for ourselves online, the nature of selfhood and of performance and power, from a woman who’s just found out her boyfriend is secretly running a popular conspiracy theorist Instagram account. Jia Tolentino’s incredibly articulate essay collection Trick Mirror addresses many of these same themes – in one memorable chapter ‘Always Be Optimizing’, she explores the modern condition through the vehicle of a chopped salad – a chopped salad the embodiment of the way that our attention can be directed away from having to focus on the consumption of nutrients and instead to the consumption of data, of content, as we answer emails or scroll Facebook or buy things on Amazon. Compelling stuff, and both searing accounts of the modern condition.

Yaa Gyasi, ‘Homegoing’ and Ta Nehisi-Coates, ‘Between the World and Me’

I feel like I have waxed lyrical about both of these before, but for good reason. Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing is a sweeping and devastating novel, transporting us from 18th century Ghana to just before the turn of the millennium in the United States. It charts the descendants of two sisters, one who is enslaved and brought to the U.S., the other who remains in Ghana. It’s an ambitious and moving examination of the ripple effects of history and racism. Between the World and Me (which should be required reading for the planet, as per the iconic Toni Morrison), is written as a letter Coates addresses to his son. He eloquently examines how the pernicious nature of systemic racism is woven into the fabric of American society. And while his experience as a Black man in America is different from his father’s, and different from his son’s, who has grown up under a Black president, there is a long, long way to go before Black lives in America are valued equally. If you loved Yaa Gyasi’s debut, make sure Ta Nehisi-Coates is next on your TBR.

Thanks for visiting! Are there any fiction/non-fiction pairings you would recommend?

The Dinner Guest B P Walter

Book Review | The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter

Rachel, working a dead-end job at a garden centre, is mindlessly scrolling Instagram. And then she sees something which makes her sit up. She quits her job, ends her lease, and moves to London – intent on finding the family she saw in the photo.

And as luck would have it, she does. The Allerton-Joneses are browsing a bookshop in their native Kensington, and Rachel engineers the perfect accidental meeting. From then on, she steadily ingratiates herself into their inner circle. But such a manoeuvre is not without its challenges. Whilst Matthew and Charlie Allerton-Jones are from the upper-echelons of British society, the very definition of being born with a silver spoon, Rachel’s meagre savings stretch to renting on a scary housing estate in Pimlico. Their fine dining and housekeeper-cooked meals contrast sharply with her discount Sainsbury’s pizzas. But Rachel knows she has to persevere with her plan, whatever the cost.

‘It’s a mirage. A charade. Stacks of money in concrete form, that’s all. Rows of houses filled with people who haven’t a clue about the horrors of this world.’

This domestic noir opens with a brutal murder, I should mention. When we first meet our protagonists, one of them is dead – and another holding a knife. But it will take the unspooling over the course of the novel to find out the how, and the why, behind this attack.

The pacing is steady, and I was engrossed in the plot and the cast of complex characters. The way that B P Walter deftly managed the twists and turns in the plot was one of the novel’s greatest strengths, divulging and withholding information at exactly the right pace to keep the reader engaged. I found the exploration of the lives of the mega-wealthy and what goes on behind the façade of respectability to be one of the most interesting things about this novel. It gives you a window into how such people live (Charlie name drops dinner with a past Prime Minister, garden parties with a verifiable Lord and Lady), and to just what extent that contrasts with the life Rachel leads. And – importantly – how money and connections enable the rich to act with impunity.

‘Back then, I’m not sure I ever felt guilty, knowing where a portion of our income came from. I’m not sure. You see, when you’re brought up being told certain things are the way of the world, it becomes very hard to question them when you’ve just accepted them for so long. And I’m not sure it bothers me much now.’

A very solid addition to the domestic noir genre, and highly recommended for anyone looking for an engrossing thriller with a bit more substance. My only gripe would be the way this is marketed – it’s not really appropriate to name drop Donna Tartt or to try to market this towards fans of a literary thriller. The title and tagline would also suggest that the dinner is a central point of this thriller – when that’s very much not the case, and the key plot points of the novel span the course of several decades. I hope that readers can go in with the right expectations and enjoy this gripping read for what it is.  

Read if you enjoyed: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, Our House by Louise Candlish

With thanks to HarperCollins for the advanced copy. The Dinner Guest will be published on 27th May 2021.

Book Review | The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Nella is trying to make it as a Black millennial in an extremely white industry – publishing. Having landed her dream job at prestigious New York publishing house Wagner, she’s worked hard to gain recognition as an editorial assistant. Sure, she has to put up with microaggressions on a regular basis – but for working under some of the country’s most eminent editors, it’s a price she’s willing to pay.

‘She could see the thread that ran between the cultural faux pas of major corporations and the major faux pas of police offers all over the country.’

When Harlem-bred Hazel starts working for Wagner, Nella is initially delighted to have another colleague of colour. But things start to grow uncomfortable as Hazel’s star rises and she begins to infringe upon projects and relationships promised to Nella. To her face a solid ally, Hazel soon becomes her worst nightmare.

This novel is so sharp and clever, with biting social commentary about race in contemporary America and, more specifically, how this plays out in workplaces across the country. It’s probably because Publishing is my jam that I found the Wagner setting so compelling and spot on. Harris addresses the very visible lack of diversity in the industry in an accessible and clear-eyed way that makes it patently obvious just how a) out of touch and b) legitimately bad for business it is to have the same old people uplifting the same old perspectives time and time again.

‘Her coworkers could publish books about Bitcoin and Middle Eastern conflicts and black holes, but most of them couldn’t understand why it was so important to have a more diverse publishing house.’

Anyway, off my soapbox.

Things start to turn very sinister when mysterious notes show up on Nella’s desk, telling her to leave Wagner. Rather than report the threats, Nella determines to get to the bottom of it. But the encroaching sense of dread is dialled up as Hazel continues on her upwards trajectory, going so far as to get the head of Wagner, Richard, to donate a hefty sum to her non-for-profit start-up supporting Black poets. Nella’s self-assurance and sanity takes a hit, and she begins to question her relationships with those around her and her ability to do her job.

‘Her spiralling sense of self-worth had started to encroach upon her sanity; her sanity, upon her sleep; and her sleep; upon her ability to be a functioning human being at work. A functioning human being who was able to forgive and forget the fact that a colleague had mistaken her for a dreadlocked girl who was four inches taller than her.’

But then things go…a little south, narrative-wise. Honestly, this might just be because this is an early copy that needs more aggressive an edit – but there were some key plot points in here that had me scratching my head in confusion. I won’t give anything away, but there’s a sub-plot with an underground resistance movement, and some truly bonkers hair products, and although I’ve not got anything against a kooky turn, I really didn’t know what was going on in the latter 25% of this book. I am very much hoping these issues will be ironed out prior to publication, because this really is a compelling, bold and timely novel – and I don’t want readers to be put off by the opaqueness of some key plot points.

With thanks to the publisher for the advanced copy. The Other Black Girl will be published on June 1st, 2021.