Sunday, June 25, 2017

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: The Title Says It All

Let's be honest - One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is the best title you've seen in a long time. I cannot for the life of me remember where I first read about this book, but I saw the title and immediately placed it on hold at the library. And once I started reading, I had that exhilarating feeling of meeting a kindred spirit.

The author, Scaachi Koul (the "c" -- the first "c" -- is silent), is a Canadian culture writer for BuzzFeed, but her family originally immigrated from Kashmir. As a Canadian-Indian (and a multitude of hyphens besides), her writing grabbed me from the first sentence. The book is a collection of essays that cover a series of topics ranging from a fear of flying and hatred of shopping, to ruminations on Indian weddings, fairism, and rape culture. No matter the topic, Koul manages to make it hilarious, insightful, and terrifying, a potent combination guaranteed to speak to any man and woman, but particularly resonant for a brown feminist living in North America.

It is always difficult to write about a book of essays. Each story is so perfect that I never want to give away my favorite lines as readers should be able to experience them in context for themselves. So if you feel that way, stop reading right here and go pick up a copy of this book. However, for those of you in need of more persuasion, here are some of the moments that spoke most to my soul. Having just returned from my cousin brother's wedding in Geneva, the following lines made me laugh out loud:

"There are two types of people who insist that Indian weddings are fun. The first are white people, who are frequently well-meaning but stupid and enjoy things vaguely different from themselves by exoticizing them....The second type are any people who have never actually been to an Indian wedding in India with Indian people...Indian weddings are a lot of things, but 'fun' has never been their purpose."

And the following observations about why she became a writer in the first place, and why it is so important for media to diversify to reflect more than white male voices, speak to why this book touched my heart so deeply:

"My version of media is one that looks like other people, because I remember being a little girl and wishing I read books or magazine articles or saw movies about people who even remotely looked like me...It changes you, when you see someone similar to you, doing the thing you might want to do yourself." 

If that doesn't convince you to read One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, I believe we have officially reached an impasse (also, there's a 99% chance you are a white man). This book came to me at an eerily perfect moment in my life. I hope someone reading this review will have a similar experience where they find a voice that is similar to theirs, and is reassured that their foibles and insecurities are shared by generations of women across the world. 

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