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Read: Fleishman is in Trouble – and that’s good news for us

Book: Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

This social satire of Manhattan’s athleisured class doesn't disappoint.

This social satire of Manhattan’s athleisured class doesn’t disappoint.

I was counting down the days until the publication of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut novel. This is because Brodesser-Akner is a legend among journalists, known for her celebrity profiles in The New York Times, where she has dissected Gwyneth Paltrow’s cult of wellness, managed to turn an encounter with a churlish Bradley Cooper into a meditation on the pitfalls of titanic celebrity, and traced the origins of Nicki Minaj’s cheeky, destructive genius. But in the weeks after her book came out, I was surprised when multiple friends well outside the New York media bubble texted me in all caps about the AMAZING, LIFE-CHANGING novel they’d just read.

This novel is the witty social satire of Manhattan’s athleisured class I was hoping for. But it is also about careers, motherhood and the balance thereof in a state of rapidly accelerating capitalism. The titular character, Toby Fleishman, is a doctor who has achieved surface success in all areas of his existence yet finds himself seized by unhappiness after a bitter divorce. At first this might seem like a classic of the midlife-crisis genre, an updating of Philip Roth and John Updike for Trump’s America. But Brodesser-Akner ends up reversing convention when it becomes apparent she is most interested in the inner lives of women. What are the consequences when a wife and mother dissembles the elaborate architecture of her fully formed life?

This is a novel about divorce, but it is also – inevitably – about marriage, and the making of a good one. Along the way, Brodesser-Akner exudes all the compassion, insight and humour I have come to expect from one of the premier practitioners of longform journalism. You’ll eat it up, and then you’ll text your friends to do the same.

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