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It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter how inventive and dextrous a writer may be, she’s always at the mercy of a societal impulse to pigeonhole authors who aren’t men into trite subcategories (which shouldn’t be confused for genres).
In recent years, novels with a certain set of signifiers—young, chaotic female narrators navigating wealthy echelons, which they may or may not already belong to; an older lover or a series of lovers; an undercurrent of dread in an idyllic beach setting—have been lumped together in an amorphous blob deemed “Hot Sad Girl” books by other readers who’ve clocked the trend.
The flippantly titled categorization makes sense on the most basic level. But it also flattens literary achievements, however flawed, like My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, Luster by Raven Leilani, Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino, Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados, and this year’s current summer obsession, The Guest by Emma Cline, into products of an assembly line.