cover image I’m a Fan

I’m a Fan

Sheena Patel. Graywolf, $17 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-64445-245-5

“I stalk a woman on the internet who is sleeping with the same man as I am,” begins Patel’s trenchant debut. The unnamed narrator, a young London woman of color, documents this infatuation triangle in a series of short prose pieces resembling online posts (one is titled “dick from someone who doesn’t care if you live or die”). Her lover is a married writer, and the other woman is a wellness influencer. The relationship is emotionally masochistic; she describes him only as “the man I want to be with,” and remarks, via the title of another entry, “i didn’t miss the red flags i looked at them and thought yeah that’s sexy.” Among those red flags are the many other women in the writer’s life, including the influencer, who’s “the daughter of someone famous in America.” Many of Patel’s insights are breathtakingly keen, particularly when detailing how, as a person of color, the narrator is expected to lay her pain bare to receive the pleasure of belonging. At times, however, the barrage of barbs creates a wearying air of cynicism. Still, Patel acutely captures how identity and intimacy can feel both deepened and deadened in the Instagram era’s attention economy. (Sept.)