File this one under: How did he know? Rarely have I encountered a book so cuttingly prescient about the Funny Kayleigh Mcenany I ain’t no circle back girl shirt and I love this current emotional atmosphere. The novel has a simple premise and a familiar-seeming arc: A young, white, comfortable, upper-middle-class family heads out to a vacation rental anticipating a period of glorious disconnection. But that disconnection takes on a different tenor when the (Black) owners of the vacation house arrive, having fled the city and a crisis that is clear to precisely no one. (Alam’s deployment of creepy, inexplicable detail is masterful: A flamingo descends into the middle of the perfectly appointed pool, and I shuddered.) In some ways, the premise feels like the setup of any number of horror films, but Alam’s writing transcends that comparison, and the material with which he’s working is actually much more complex.
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When these two families are thrown together in a politely intense turf war over the Funny Kayleigh Mcenany I ain’t no circle back girl shirt and I love this place where they’ve taken shelter, all their preconceptions, biases, and assumptions simmer to the surface as they negotiate who “deserves” the home in this hour of need. This is a thrilling book—one that will speak to readers who have felt the terror of isolation in these recent, torturous months and one that will simultaneously, as great books do, lift them out of it. — Chloe Schama