Thanks to a recent issue of the New Yorker, I stumbled upon Nell Zink.
After reading the New Yorker piece, I figured that if Jonathan Franzen had high regard for Nell Zink there must be something to this American writer (now living in Germany).
That’s how I got to Zink’s new book Mislaid.
The book is set in Virginia from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s.
Mislaid is one of the most fun books I’ve come across in recent days.
Laden with wit and verve, the writing flows smoothly and beautifully.
Above all, you can’t beat Zink’s central theme.
Where else can you read with delight about a White lesbian wannabe playwright in Virginia fleeing to the boondocks and passing herself and her daughter as Black to avoid being tracked by her domineering White gay poet husband.
If this is weird escapist fantasy, I say let’s have more of such stuff.
Despite the book’s slim size (242-pages), the author invests considerable depth in the main characters Peggy/Meg (mother), Karen/Mireille (daughter), Lee (husband) and Byrdie (son).
Ancillary characters like the drug dealer Lomax, Karen’s boyfriend Temple, Lee’s friend Cary et al are no less interesting.
Zink is that rare well read writer. And her catholic reading shows in her book. From Shiva to the Tamil Tigers to Marxism to the ancient Greek writers, the book ripples with apposite references and similes.
Zink is proof that if you gormandize a million books the writing just gushes off the pen.
But Zink is also blessed with another fine skill – A sarcastic pen and, boy, does she deploy it well!
Rampant racism, listless White kids, widespread drug use at universities, the nonsense that is academia, casual sex of young Black girls, drug dealing, easy life of rich White folks … there’s nothing that escapes Zink’s tart pen.
Zink’s initial attempts at writing plays are a hoot. I won’t spoil your fun by disclosing more.
With not the least doubt that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, I heartily recommend Mislaid to the alarmingly dwindling population of book-lovers.
Mislaid is the rare book I’d love to read a second time.
Most US libraries have Mislaid. Go ahead and reserve your copy now.
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