Author: Candice Carty-Williams
Genre: Woman fiction
Basic premise: Queenie is basically like the black version of Bridget Jone's Diary. It follows the life of Queenie Jones, a 25-year-old black woman living in London and going through a pretty bad quarter-life crisis. She’s on a break from her white boyfriend, Tom, and is confused about what the break means for their relationship in the long term. On top of that, her job as a journalist is hanging by a thread and made even worse when she has a short fling with one of her colleagues, leading to a disastrous chain of events. At home, she is struggling with her rent, has a strained relationship with her mum and has to deal with her well-meaning but overbearing mother.
Yeah, life is not easy, for Queenie.
Review: Even though I am a 30-year old black man, so I am clearly not the author’s typical audience, I enjoyed Queenie. I do have some issues with it but overall it was an enjoyable read.
My favourite aspect of the book itself was Queenie’s character. Throughout the book, her life unravels as she makes bad decisions with mostly white men she sleeps with and struggles to connect with her emotionally broken mother.
But what I found most interesting is that Queenie is not a loud or angry black woman stereotype. She’s a highly creative and sensitive young black woman and we don’t see that kind of representation of black women in many mediums, let alone books. As much as I liked Queenie, I do have to mention Kyazike, her Ugandan best friend who recounts some hilarious dating stories. Can’t lie, some of us men don’t have any clue what we’re doing when it comes to the dating game.
The weakest part of the novel for me, personally, was the writing. Not that the writing was terrible. Far from it. In fact, there are some witty turns of phrase in this book that made even me, as a man, laugh. But I did find Candice’s writing to be too simple, a little generic and lacking a distinct voice. She is not in same league as Zadie Smith writing-wise but to be fair, not many black authors are, male or female.
Also, there is a major revelation about Queenie’s mother’s past boyfriend, which I won’t spoil, which was quite jarring. It’s quite a dark twist in the book which didn’t quite work for me because before this reveal, the book was more light-hearted.
Queenie is worth the read. The eponymous hero is a breath of fresh air for black female representation as she is not the loud, angry or ghetto black girl stereotype. She feels like a real woman, going thorough unique struggles that only a black female could experence. Whether you’re a male or female, Queenie is endlessly entertaining and thought-provoking.