FICTION

The Narcissism of Small Differences

Akashic. May 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781617758188. $28.95. F
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Detroit 2009—a once vital city ravaged by globalization, like many other cities in the former industrial Midwest. Good jobs are hard to find, and Joe and Ana, a longtime unmarried couple both in their late 30s, each struggle with jobs they don’t like and a relationship of which they have become uncertain. They love Detroit and each other, but they are at a breaking point, needing to make serious choices about their futures. They feel a great deal of pressure to do what couples their age are supposed to do—get married, have children, and take out a mortgage. Ana has built a successful career in advertising, but she is finding this work increasingly soul-crushing. Joe has always wanted to be a writer, but he has had to support this dream with a series of increasingly dead-end jobs in a dying trade—journalism. Zadoorian (Beautiful Music; The Leisure Seeker) brings their travails and their relationship skillfully to life in this warm, surprisingly playful novel about middle-age crisis.
VERDICT Zadoorian’s obvious affection for Detroit, along with his enthusiasm for his characters’ pursuit of meaningful lives, makes this a very enjoyable read. Recommended for fans of literary fiction and contemporary love stories.

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