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Brooklyn author’s debut novel explores complexity of female friendships

Brooklyn BookBeat

May 31, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rumaan Alam. Photo: David A. Land
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Brooklyn author Rumaan Alam’s debut novel “Rich and Pretty” (Ecco; On-sale June 7) chronicles a certain kind of female friendship: elusive, complex and enduring. Through his career in fashion and publishing and his life in New York, Alam’s mentors, colleagues and friends have always been women — and it’s this lifetime of camaraderie that bleeds into his humorous and thoughtful examination of female friendship and how it affects ambition, career and family.

While coming-of-age books are plentiful, not as many examine the in-between stage of the early-to-mid-30s, when adult expectations loom large but in real life often fall short. Alam masters the specific growing pains that arise in one’s early 30s, and the difficulty at trying to maneuver them.   

His book traces the story of Sarah and Lauren, who, throughout 20 years of friendship, have been through private school and college, boyfriend after boyfriend, different apartments and different jobs. Lauren is single and works in publishing, lusting after her office’s temp and waiting for a promotion. Sarah is engaged, working a charity job and planning a wedding to her longtime boyfriend. Their lives run on different tracks, and they both envy and despise certain parts of the other’s. They talk around this distance when together in the balletic way of most female friends, adeptly stepping around the problematic parts, and trying to linger in the warm ones.

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Alam started his career in fashion publishing, has written extensively on interior design and has worked as a copywriter and creative director in advertising. His writing has been published in New York Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The Rumpus, Washington Square Review, Gettysburg Review, American Short Fiction and elsewhere. He studied at Oberlin College and lives in Brooklyn.

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