Such A Fun Age
Kiley Reid’s debut novel begins in a well-to-do supermarket in Philadelphia. It’s late. A young black woman, Emira, is there with Briar, a white two-year-old toddler that she babysits three times a week. Due to a family emergency, Briar’s parents – Alix and Peter – have asked Emira if they can take Briar out of the house for an hour or two. But when they’re wandering around the store Emira is challenged by a security guard who thinks that she has kidnapped the child. Another customer records the confrontation on his phone. It’s a wonderful set-up for this compelling comedy of manners, the manners in this case relating to matters of race, more specifically, the racism of white liberals. The novel also concerns itself with worldviews informed by privilege – the insidious demarcations between the characters are drawn here with real skill and no little wit. And in Alix (who notes with self-congratulatory glee that she has fiveblack people coming to her deliberately kitsch Thanksgiving party) Reid has given us a real monster for our times. Already a shoo-in for one of my favourite novels of the year.