I can tell you right now that Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte is going to be on my Best of 2016 list. I loved it. Tulathimutte could have so easily taken a great idea and made several missteps, but he doesn’t. The tone is perfect. The language is spot on. It’s brilliant.
Private Citizens recounts the post university life of four Stanford grads and they are struggling. It is steeped in the political/ ethical righteousness that only those with the privilege of higher education can muster. It is entirely rooted in theory with little actual experience. Vegan, fregan, hyper-political correctness abound. And this is where Tulathimutte hits the tone so perfectly.
And Tulathimutte has delivered a truly diverse cast of characters without it seeming the least bit forced. It reflects the world in which I live. There is no mandatory friend of colour, but someone who happens to be from an under-represented group. There isn’t the stereotypically “gay” friend, but instead someone experimenting with their sexuality for very real reasons.
Who would like this book? I think it’s safe to say that not all of my readers will find Private Citizens as thrilling as I did. It is pushing boundaries, so if you like your literary fiction staid and traditional then this may not be for you. Don’t let the university friends thing fool you, this is not The Interestings. It reminded me more of Want Not by Jonathan Miles (review).