A Competitor

No one seems to share my enthusiasm for Salman Rushdie’s wonderful, wonderful new novel Quichotte, so here is the promotional blurb for one of its competitors for the Booker. Mind you, I haven’t read the novel, so I have no idea what it’s like. It might be good for all I know. I’ll never find out, though, because who can possibly want to read a novel advertised this way:

From one of Britain’s most celebrated writers of color, Girl, Woman, Other is a magnificent portrayal of the intersections of identity and a moving and hopeful story of an interconnected group of Black British women. Shortlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize, Girl, Woman, Other paints a vivid portrait of the state of post-Brexit Britain, as well as looking back to the legacy of Britain’s colonial history in Africa and the Caribbean.

The twelve central characters of this multi-voiced novel lead vastly different lives: Amma is a newly acclaimed playwright whose work often explores her Black lesbian identity; her old friend Shirley is a teacher, jaded after decades of work in London’s funding-deprived schools; Carole, one of Shirley’s former students, is a successful investment banker; Carole’s mother Bummi works as a cleaner and worries about her daughter’s lack of rootedness despite her obvious achievements. From a nonbinary social media influencer to a 93-year-old woman living on a farm in Northern England, these unforgettable characters also intersect in shared aspects of their identities, from age to race to sexuality to class.

Sparklingly witty and filled with emotion, centering voices we often see othered, and written in an innovative fast-moving form that borrows technique from poetry, Girl, Woman, Other is a polyphonic and richly textured social novel that shows a side of Britain we rarely see, one that reminds us of all that connects us to our neighbors, even in times when we are encouraged to be split apart.

AC Woes

By the way, the AC was set at 67F in the classrooms today. People were perishing. And as I already mentioned, the lights are always on and the AC blasting like crazy in our building irrespective of whether anybody is there. Just think about it. My office lights have been on for decades.

But we all supported the climate strike. It’s such a joke.

Open Garage Door

This local habit of leaving the garage door up during the hottest season at the hottest times of day, does anybody know why it exists? And isn’t it too expensive because the AC is on inside? Or does the closed door between the house and the garage insulate the house?

Looks Like Them

What I don’t get is the idea that students need a professor “who looks like them” in order to learn. That is, black students. Nobody says this about Indian, Chinese or Ukrainian students.

First of all, I’m not sure how the “looks like them” criterion is applied. Do we assume that “all black people look alike”? Or do we take into consideration that a black person from Ghana looks nothing like (to anybody but a total racist) an African-American student from St Louis?

Another issue is how that makes the professor feel. You go to school for many years, learn, read, write, publish… and then get hired because of your “look”? And what, the people at the interview evaluate you in terms of the “look”? Like, whether you are black enough? Like in, “yeah, but she’s Indian black not black black?”

I feel very uncomfortable participating in these conversations about “the right look.”