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The Crack Magazine

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I’m A Fan by Sheena Patel

Sheena Patel was born and raised in London and is part of the poetry collective ‘4 Brown Girls Who Write’. ‘I’m A Fan’ is her debut novel. It details an affair between a brown woman in her early 30s and an older white man. The man is married and also has another girlfriend. The (unnamed) protagonist also has a boyfriend. Throughout she calls the man ‘the man I want to be with’ while his girlfriend is ‘the woman I’m obsessed with’ (which, yes, can become a tad tiresome for the reader). This obsession manifests itself through constant cyber-stalking. It’s a grubby situation and as ‘the man I want to be with’ continues to mess the protagonist around, you just know there’s nothing good can come of the dalliance. But while the affair has no great narrative pull, the novel has much to say about modern communication – particularly our carefully curated online selves (‘the woman I’m obsessed with’, with her Goop-like lifestyle, is a great comic foil). The novel also has teeth when it comes to liberal capitalism, particularly how a seemingly ethical, Instagramable life, is just another cog in the wheel: “The individualised, curated and careful consumerism they both espouse is like trying to solve the problem with more of the problem.” Also worthy of note is the sharp commentary on race: “It takes me a long time to realise that when the man I want to be with tells me he like being seen with me in public what he means is, he enjoys what my skin colour says about him to other people.” RM

Published by Rough Trade Books