Guest contributor Kidan Araya talks about seeing Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams on her Nov. 19 D.C. book tour stop.
Candice Carty-Williams, the Jamaican-British author behind one of the most widely discussed books of the year, made a stop in Washington, D.C. to discuss her debut novel Queenie.
Solid State Books, a relatively new locally owned bookstore that personifies the hipness of my generation by serving local kombucha, staying open late hours for people to study and meet, and having awesome bean bags, hosted the author in its northeast D.C. bookstore. It was a full house with a few standing attendees, which included mostly women of all races. The event was structured as a Q&A with Candice and local bookstagrammer Jamise Harper.
The audience jumped into questions and comments about Queenie. Many people praised the cover of Queenie and loved the “unapologetic blackness” of the cover. When Candice was asked if she ever considered how the cover—an image of a black woman with braids—could be a determining factor for certain demographics never picking up the book, Candice confidently stated she did not consider that at all. She also said she had received encouraging emails from readers saying the cover was the first time they had ever seen a black woman in natural hair on a book cover and it made them feel more confident about wearing their own natural hairstyles.
There was also a discussion on the power of female friendships. Queenie’s friends and how their personalities offered something unique that helped Queenie significantly overcome her struggles. The audience also expressed their disappointment that Queenie never had a triumphant moment with Tom, her boyfriend who leaves her at the beginning of the novel. But Candice said she wanted the book to be as realistic as possible and most of us do not have a triumphant moment with our exes. Point made. Everyone also agreed that the comparisons between Queenie and Bridget Jones’s Diary were a bit hollow, as Queenie delved into so many different topics of our time such as racial tension and mental health.
Furthermore, the attendees also praised Queenie for its accurate depictions of mental health. In the novel, Queenie decides to see a therapist to help her cope with job stress and relationship drama. Specifically, the therapist helps her understand her behavior of why she chooses toxic relationships and hookups and how to become resilient after Ted, the married man she has an affair with, forces her job to place her on leave. The reader sees Queenie go through a variety of emotions with her therapy sessions: being uneasy at first; describing the anxiety of booking your first appointment; breathing techniques; discussing how earlier life trauma with our families actually influences our behavior; and continuing therapy even when her life starts turning around for the better.
When an audience member asked why Queenie only dates white men in the book, Candice described how growing up in the U.K. in Black Caribbean communities, many people are told that “the closer you can get to whiteness, the better,” including marrying white partners.
She also excitedly announced that Queenie is being adopted into television! She said Queenie will have a diverse array of love interests in the TV show.
Overall, the book discussion was made more excellent as Candice was a very candid and humorous author that was just as personable as the character Queenie (even though she swears that Queenie is not a biographical account). Everyone left happy and looking forward to hearing more news on the Queenie television adaption.