Kiley Reid: 'The premise that literary fiction has to be a drag is so silly

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Tuesday December 15, 2020 at 9:33pm

The novelist’s hit debut, a witty spin on race, feminism and sex based on her time as a nanny in New York, has even won fans among her former employers…

Claire Armitstead

This time last year, Kiley Reid was a tantalising rumour, the truth of which was known only to her publishers and to the film company that had optioned her debut novel two years before it was ready to see the light of day. When Such a Fun Age was published – on New Year’s Eve in the US and a week later in the UK – the rumour checked out: here was a smart comedy of manners, which treated interracial relationships of the early 21st century with the sort of needling wit that Jane Austen had applied to class 200 years earlier.

It was the start of a year in which Reid seems to have been travelling in the opposite direction to the rest of the world. By the time the Covid pandemic shut everything down, she had introduced the novel to 19 cities, including London. Reese Witherspoon had picked it for her book club; in July, it was longlisted for the Booker prize.

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