Literary Friction - Climbing the Ladder with Natasha Brown

Social hierarchies and the metrics of status and success are a part of life accepted by some and rejected by others, but whatever your position, they are hard to escape. There are lots of novels about characters climbing proverbial ladders, from Patrick Bateman rising through the ranks in the workplace in American Psycho to Becky Sharpe social climbing in Vanity Fair. Our guest this month is Natasha Brown, whose debut novel Assembly follows a Black British woman preparing for a garden party at her boyfriend's family estate, and thinking through the stories she exists within - stories of class, race, and the meaning of success. She's ticked all the 'right' boxes, went to a good university, has a cushy job in finance, owns her flat, and yet she begins to question the cost of her complicity in a system that will never fully accept her. We get into how books can enforce these kinds of social norms or subvert them, and whether fiction is a good place to question these structures, plus all the usual recommendations. Recommendations on the theme, Climbing the Ladder: Octavia: The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith Carrie: Klara and The Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro General Recommendations: Octavia: No. 91/92: notes on a Parisian commute by Lauren Elkin Natasha: Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy Carrie: Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout Find a list of all recommended books at: Support us on Patreon: Email us: Tweet us & find us on Instagram: @litfriction This episode is sponsored by Picador:

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