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Kiley Reid Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Such a Fun Age (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

George Washington's Teeth (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Kiley Reid is an American literary fiction author from Philadelphia best known for her debut novel “Such a Fun Age.” The Arizona native got a Truman Capote Fellowship and then went on to attend the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her short fiction has been featured in “New South,” “December,” “Ploughshares” and she also won the Flash Prose Contest for her short story in Lumina. As a recipient of the Paul Cuffee Scholarship, she was a resident of the Cuttyhunk Island Residency in 2018. Reid wrote her debut novel “Such a Fun Age” in 2019 to much critical acclaim. The novel has the honor of being one of the very few to be acquired and optioned for film before it was even written. Sight Unseen Pictures and Hillman Grad Productions owned by Lena Waithe acquired the TV and film rights to the novel four months before it was published. Kiley Reid will write the scripts for the film adaptation and has asserted that she has found it an exciting and wonderful experience given that she has always loved film. Kiley currently lives with her husband in Philadelphia.

Reid was born in Los Angeles in 1984 but spent much of her childhood in Tucson Arizona. As a teenager, she moved to New York City after enrolling at Marymount Manhattan College to study acting. She would then go to the University of Arkansas and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she studied Creative Writing. She comes from a fairly wealthy background and hence she has more in common with Alix than Emira. Her parents placed a lot of value on schooling and hence she may have had a very privileged upbringing. However, she has the usual college life as she made a living working at an art studio organizing children’s birthday parties and working as a nanny just like her lead in the novel Emira. She worked for wealthy people in New York and hence she has a very good understanding of how they think, which she then puts forth in the character of Alix. Living in the houses of white people who were extremely rich she often found herself having to sit through the discomfort of social faux pas. Some of this included how the rich white people talk about race, money and argue on who is the least racist.

Riley writes about the themes of wealth, interracial relations, millennial anxiety, and privilege. Through her lead characters, she explores the tropes of the ingenuous racist and white savior. Throughout the book, the white people ignore the perspective of the black character and make the assumption that they know what is best for her. There is also a sense of ownership about the way her employer speaks to her. The novel is a satire of how white people try to show themselves as woke. Emira’s relationship with her employer and her friend is used as a battleground in which the two try as hard as possible to show that they are not racist. According to Reid, the characters are just trying to help and are not in themselves bad people. However, they go through a lot of mental gymnastics all in the quest to ignore or pretend that systems that led to the inequality do not exist. Another critical theme of the novel is millennial anxiety over career choice, money and job security. Emira as a black girl in her twenties of often concerned with getting a secure job. She is also increasingly concerned about not having health insurance since she will be off her parent’s cover when she turns twenty-six. She cannot find a good job and is still babysitting even as most of her former classmates are getting their yearly promotions and raises. These circumstances intensify her desire to find a job that would make her feel secure and enough of an adult and babysitting is just not it. In the context of the relationship between her and her employer Alix, the book also explores transactional relationships and emotional labor.

Kiley Reid’s “Such a Fun Age” is the story of Alix Chamberlain and her employee Emira Tucker. Alix is a wealthy woman, a blogger that has managed to grow a confidence brand and now gets to show other women how to go for what they want in life. Emira Tucker is her black babysitter with whom she believes she has a very good relationship. Alix gets the chance to apply what she does with Emira when her sitter is confronted by a white security guard while shopping out at night with her employee’s toddler. The white security guard is so certain that the black woman walking the isles with a two-year-old white toddler must have kidnapped him. He confronts her and Emira is forced to call her employee who indeed confirms that she is the sitter but not before a small crowd gathers and someone films the entire confrontation. As is expected, Emira is humiliated and furious but wants nothing more to do with the situation though Alix insists that the security guard has to pay. Emira is broke and aimless in life and is wary of the help offered by Alix. She is twenty-five and in less than a year she will not even have health insurance. But then a video of Emira emerges online and in it is someone from Alix’s past. Now both women are on a collision course that may turn everything they know about each other and themselves upside down. It is a piercing yet empathetic social commentary that explores what it means to treat another person as family, the transactional nature of relationships and the complications of growing up.

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