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Review of I'm a Fan by Sheena Patel

In this debut, Sheena Patel uses a single speaker to examine the tenderness and the cruelty of human behaviour. Our unlikeable narrator is cheating on her boyfriend with a man only referred to as "the man I want to be with". He in turn is playing her against another woman, who our protagonist stalks online and refers to only as "the woman I am obsessed with". Cleverly, these unnamed characters are somehow some of the most realistic and well-rounded characters I've read in a debut novel. 

Patel manages to articulate the messiest of emotions, portraying obsession, toxicity and jealousy with nuance and biting lyricism. It's angry and bitter and you'll probably hate the characters but it serves as an invitation to embrace imperfection and to admit we're all capable of problematic thoughts and feelings. 

The chapters are short and easily digestible; you almost feel like you're reading from someone's private blog or twitter thread, especially as social media has clearly been a big influence here. It is a frank and unflinching look at our modern obsession with comparison and status and appearing not to care while caring very much - and how this can eat away at a person. Another one for fans of unhinged women and dissections of modern relationships. I really recommend this debut and look forward to reading more of Patel's work.

Review by Abi.

I'm a Fan was published on 09/06/22 by Rough Trade Books.

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