Monday, 28 October 2019

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

“I can’t have any love in my life that isn’t completely f***ed by my fear that I’ll be rejected just for being born me. Do you know how that feels?”

On the day she is due to move out of the flat she has shared with the boyfriend she thought she would spend the rest of her life with, Queenie - funny, feisty, troubled young Black woman – finds out she has just had a miscarriage.

This is Fleabag if she came from a background, not of middle-class White privilege, but of working-class Black struggle. This is Fleabag if, in addition to all the pressures of being young and female in London today, she had to deal with everyday racism, White female fragility and male fetishisation of Black women’s bodies.

Queenie’s long-suffering network of friends – her ‘Corgis’ – hold things together via group texts as Queenie drinks too much, lurches through a series of unsuitable relationships, deals with her uncompromising Jamaican grandmother and barely hangs on at work. But sooner or later, something is going to break, and Queenie is going to have find a way to deal with the manifold layers of loss in her life.

Queenie manages to be both hilarious and heart-breaking. In charting Queenie’s breakdown and recovery, Carty-Williams deals with Black Lives Matter, the gentrification of neighbourhoods like Brixton, the capacity White liberalism and White feminism to continually disappoint – all with a bone-dry humour that never feels preachy.

Queenie is a character you will fall in love with and who will remain with you a long time. Oh, and DON'T touch her hair!

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Ordinary People by Diana Evans, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik, The Million Pieces of Nina Gill by Emma Smith-Barton, Fleabag by Pheobe Waller-Bridge

Avoid If You Dislike: Fairly explicit descriptions of casual sex

Perfect Accompaniment: Pizza and Prosecco

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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