Why I love it
An essay collection hinges entirely on the voice of its author, so let me characterize Scaachi Koul's: rude, angry, sometimes crass, always fiercely intelligent and hilarious. In her debut, Koul tackles regular essay collection stuff'”meditations on relationships, family, identity '“ but the best part of it is that she’s funny as sh*t.
I laughed out loud on a dozen occasions throughout this book, from her descriptions of a torturously long five-day family wedding in Jammu to stranger details. For instance, Koul refers to her boyfriend affectionately as "Hamhock," a 'œsweet, precious moron'; she hides packets of sweet-and-sour sauce in her bra. One essay starts with this line: 'œLike farts and the incorrect retellings of classic literature, racism is a lot cuter when it comes out of a little girl.'
Koul was raised in Alberta, Canada, her Kashmiri parents having immigrated from India. She writes often about her family, and if there’s a strong thread that runs through the book, it’s one of lineage. Koul has inherited parents’ anxieties and fears, the baggage that comes with being born brown.
Beyond the personal, some essays cover topics about the larger evils of the world. For instance, 'œMute' details the Twitter backlash Koul experienced when she encouraged non-white, non-male people to contribute to BuzzFeed (where Koul works). Alt-right poster-boy Milo Yiannopoulos sent his followers after her, which turned into a terrifying flood of rape and death threats. Learning about her experience firsthand will make you shiver and want to lock your virtual internet twitter deadbolt door. Koul reveals a core truth about Internet trolls: 'œwhat they say to me online is the purest distillation of the rage they feel.'
But the most powerful essay in the book is 'œHunting Season,' which illuminates the way men prey on women. We're talking about observation on the most primal level. 'œMen watch women at the gym, at work, on the subway: in any space occupied by men and women, the women are being watched,' Koul writes. The perils of course are steepest at the bar: as Koul says, 'œWhen a guy asks to buy you a drink, suggest he buy you a snack instead and see how that goes over.'
In the end, it becomes clear the title of the book is a bit of a joke. One day we will all be dead, but after reading Koul's essays, you'll recognize that these things do matter. They matter so damn much.