Debut novelist of instant New York Times-bestselling Such a Fun Age
Photo credit: David Goddard
About Kiley Reid
Kiley Reid is the instant New York Times-bestselling author of Such a Fun Age, a critically acclaimed new novel that shines a bright light on the subtle, yet deeply impactful aspects of race and privilege in America. Reid earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been described as an exciting new voice in the literary scene. In honest and compelling talks, Reid weaves together her writing methods with the process of writing about timely, relevant issues like race and class with unflinching honesty.
Kiley Reid’s debut novel, Such a Fun Age, follows a Black babysitter named Emira and the white mother, Alix, who employs her. A harrowing experience propels the novel, in which Emira is confronted at a supermarket while watching Alix’s toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young Black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping the two-year-old. What follows is a sequence of events that intertwines Emira and Alix’s lives and digs into the complexities of benevolent racism. Over a year before the book’s publication, acclaimed producer and actress Lena Waithe acquired the film rights to the story, and an adaptation is currently in the works. Such a Fun Age was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author. The novel is also nominated for the 2020 Booker Prize. Additionally, Reese Witherspoon, Well-Read Black Girl, and Buzzfeed all chose the novel for their monthly book clubs.
During her time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Kiley Reid was awarded the prestigious Truman Capote Fellowship and taught undergraduate creative writing workshops with a focus on race and class. She has had work featured in The New York Times and TIME, and her short stories have appeared in several notable publications like Playboy, Ploughshares, December, New South, and Lumina. Reid lives in Philadelphia.
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Writing Such A Fun Age
While her debut novel is not a work of auto-fiction, Reid drew inspiration from her six years as a nanny to the several children in Manhattan. Later, while at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, with time and clarity to draw upon the feeling of working in someone else's home, Kiley had the opportunity to research and analyze domestic work, the anxieties of the liberal elite, and how language and memory can work on the page. With a penchant for awkward moments and a dedication to depicting domestic in its complicated forms, Reid shares the experience of creating two very different perspectives approaching privilege, money, and precocious toddlers.
Plot and Dialogue: A How-To
Even the most principle dancers need a refresher of what tools are in their box. This is the equivalent of returning to the basics with a new lens; stopping by a barre class and remembering why you started. From teaching undergraduate workshops at the University of Iowa, to middle schoolers at Savannah, Georgia's Godley Station School, to condensed classes for Iowa Writers' Workshop Alumni, Reid has crafted this interactive lesson for writers at any level, and anyone equally interested in storytelling. In plot, we track how stories move, and how best to break the rules. In dialogue, we discover what exactly language and words are accomplishing, in life and on the page.
Praise for Kiley Reid
Praise for Such a Fun Age
A complex, layered page-turner…This is a book that will read, I suspect, quite differently to various audiences—funny to some, deeply uncomfortable and shamefully recognizable to others—but whatever the experience, I urge you to read Such a Fun Age. Let its empathetic approach to even the ickiest characters stir you, allow yourself to share Emira’s millennial anxieties about adulting, take joy in the innocence of Briar’s still-unmarred personhood, and rejoice that Kiley Reid is only just getting started.— NPR
Kiley Reid has written the most provocative page-turner of the year….[Such a Fun Age] nestl[es] a nuanced take on racial biases and class divides into a page-turning saga of betrayals, twists, and perfectly awkward relationships….The novel feels bound for book-club glory, due to its sheer readability. The dialogue crackles with naturalistic flair. The plotting is breezy and surprising. Plus, while Reid’s feel for both the funny and the political is undeniable, she imbues her flawed heroes with real heart.— Entertainment Weekly
Reid’s acerbic send-up of identity politics thrives in the tension between the horror and semiabsurdity of race relations in the social media era. But she is too gifted a storyteller to reduce her tale to, well, black-and-white….Clever and hilariously cringe-y, this debut is a provocative reminder of what the road to hell is paved with.— O, The Oprah Magazine
Lively…[A] carefully observed study of class and race, whose portrait of white urban affluence—Everlane sweaters, pseudo-feminist babble—is especially pointed. Attempting to navigate the white conscience in the age of Black Lives Matter, Reid unsparingly maps the moments when good intentions founder.— The New Yorker
Such a Fun Age is blessedly free of preaching, but if Reid has an ethos, it’s attention: the attention Emira pays to who Briar really is, and the attention that Alix fails to pay to Emira, instead spending her time thinking about her….The novel is often funny and always acute, but never savage; Reid is too fascinated by how human beings work to tear them apart. All great novelists are great listeners, and Such a Fun Age marks the debut of an extraordinarily gifted one.— Slate
[A] funny, fast-paced social satire about privilege in America…Beneath her comedy of good intentions, [Reid] stages a Millennial bildungsroman that is likely to resonate with 20-something postgraduates scrambling to get launched in just about any American city.— The Atlantic
Provocative…Surprisingly resonant insights into the casual racism in everyday life, especially in the America of the liberal elite.— The New York Times Book Review
Fun is the operative word in Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid’s delectably discomfiting debut. The buzzed-about novel takes a thoroughly modern approach to the timeless upstairs-downstairs trope….Told from alternating points of view, the novel loops through vibrant vignettes set in reggaeton nightclubs and Philadelphia farmers markets before landing firmly on one side of the maternal divide….This page-turner goes down like comfort food, but there’s no escaping the heartburn.”— Vogue
Buoyed by a tight narrative structure, Such a Fun Age is a compulsive read whose dark humor comes at the expense of Emira, who often finds herself sitting in the wormy discomfort of a social faux pas.— Elle
[Such a Fun Age] grapples with racism and nods to titans of literature….[A] vivid page-turner [that] explores agency and culpability through the entangled lives of Emira and her employer, Alix.— Vanity Fair
Such a Fun Age keeps it real on race, wealth, and class….Subtly illustrat[es] the systemic racism in America and the ways that we’re routinely perpetuating it or being subjected to it on a daily basis. The question that will sit with readers for days after finishing the book: What role do I play?— Marie Claire
If you don’t read [Such a Fun Age] soon, you will have nothing to talk about at book clubs, dinner parties, playgroups, or friend drinks. Kiley Reid’s debut novel…is getting raves and making waves.— Glamour
Books by Kiley Reid
Media About Kiley Reid
Kiley Reid: ‘Giving black artists responsibilities like teaching you something new about race is just additional labour’
‘Such a Fun Age’ satirizes white woke culture. It may be fiction, but Kiley Reid is aiming for truth.
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- Kiley Reid travels from Philadelphia, PA