Problems

Jade Sharma. Coffee House/Emily Books (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-56689-442-5
Sharma’s debut novel is an uncompromising and unforgettable depiction of the corrosive loop of addiction. Maya is a young woman living in New York with her husband, Peter. She has an afterthought of a job at a bookstore, is sleeping with a former professor, and regularly does heroin. Following a trip to Peter’s parents’ house for Thanksgiving, during which Maya tries to stop using, Peter leaves her (“You make me feel like an employee,” he says to her) and the professor breaks off their affair. Maya’s not-very-happy life descends further, becoming a cycle of sleeping with Internet strangers for drug money, attempting to quit, and then resuming. Sharma structures the novel in short bursts of prose, alternately jumping around or lingering in a scene. Despite the floaty plot, there is a propulsive energy in Maya’s story, guided by her askew yet precise perspective: “This is the way heroin addiction works: You take four classes thinking you will keep yourself busy, but then you mess it up because you’re always high... And so then, what’s the point of getting clean? To return to a mostly empty life?” Some readers may find the subject matter too difficult, but in Maya’s voice, Sharma has crafted a momentous force that never flags and feels painfully honest. (July)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016
Release date: 07/05/2016
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-56689-442-5
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