In her debut short story collection, Camille Acker unleashes the irony and tragic comedy of respectability onto a wide-ranging cast of characters, all of whom call Washington, DC, home. A “woke” millennial tries to fight gentrification, only to learn she’s part of the problem; a grade school teacher dreams of a better DC, only to take out her frustrations on her students; and a young piano player wins a competition, only to learn the prize is worthless.
Ultimately, they are confronted with the fact that respectability does not equal freedom. Instead, they must learn to trust their own conflicted judgment and fight to create their own sense of space and self.
An exciting literary achievement by a significant emerging talent. This flawlessly executed work reinvigorates the short fiction genre.
These stories pulse with vitality as ordinary people look for a future in a world that doesn’t expect them to have one. . . . A striking cross-section view of the capital’s corners, these stories contain, and sometimes restrain, hope; in fleeting glimpses, they also reveal the beginning of a way out.
Acker shows that the lives of black girls and women are vast and varied, pushing back on the monolithic ways they are often portrayed.