Nell Freudenberger was 28 when she was published at The New Yorker. Since then, her rise to the top (she made Granta’s ‘Best Young American Authors’ in 2008 and The New Yorker’s own ‘20 Under 40‘ list in 2010) has been inspiring and, to use the oft-abused metaphor, “meteoric”. (It’s late. I’ve been reading psychology texts all day. Metaphorically, I’m not very good this night.)
Anyway. I have not read her debut publication- a collection of short stories titled Lucky Girls but I DID get to read her utterly enchanting second novel, ‘The Newlyweds‘. I reviewed it for Hyphen Magazine.
‘The Newlyweds’ was inspired by a Bangladeshi woman that Freudenberger met on a plane to Rochester. The narrative follows a young Bangla woman named Amina who meets her American beau through on online dating service and consequently flies to Rochester to marry him. Expectedly, this cross cultural romance is about culture shock, love across borders and all that. But what I liked most about the book was that it was a pretty realistic portrayal of an immigrant woman’s experience in the U.S.A. I guess, I could say, that I identified with Amina’s story- especially her struggle with finding employment and the fact that it didn’t matter how educated she was, she still ended up with a minimum wage job at Starbucks.
Such is life.
Below is an excerpt of my review. Click here or on the picture to read the full review at Hyphen Magazine.
“On a surface level, Freudenberger is literally telling someone else’s story: that of Farah, a Bangla woman whom she met on a flight to Rochester, with whose consent and approval she developed the narrative. On a deeper level, Freudenberger places herself in an alien context. As a white, Jewish, American woman she is writing about a brown, Bangla, Muslim woman’s immigrant experience in America. Does she have the right to do this? More importantly, does she succeed?”