Thankam Mathews’ debut novel is a fascinating exploration of race, work, and community in contemporary United States. Sneha, the protagonist, is an ambitious queer young woman, the kind who confidently negotiates a higher salary, who potential bosses call a “rockstar”. After moving to Milwaukee to start a promising corporate job, however, she finds herself lost. As money suddenly becomes scarce and the possibility of eviction looms, Sneha struggles with the discomfort of opening up to friends and relationships old and new.
Unusually for a “millennial novel of ideas,” this book is compulsively readable. Its light precise prose pulled me in from the start, while its characters kept me reading: they are compelling people who talk, behave, and text like actual humans. Although there is a romance element, the narrative’s focus is on friendship, as well as on alternative modes of community and care in a late-capitalist economy.
A 2022 National Book Award Finalist, All This Could Be Different offers an honest look into the precarity of contemporary notions of success. A rare (extremely enjoyable!) blend of addictive and quotidian.