This teensy little novella comes to us from the genius of Zadie Smith. It begins by ruminating on the strange appearance of an embassy in the middle of the London suburb of Willesden. Hush all of course because embassies are almost always in the middle of the city. It’s a quiet place with few comings or goings, although notable for it’s seemingly continual game of badminton being played somewhere in the garden.
Almost as strange is the existence of Fatou in this suburban setting. Fatou appears to be se kind of indentured seat, ostensibly a nanny, but one who is never paid. She wonders if she is a slave, after seeing a program about a slave on TV. She comes to the conclusion that as she is allowed out of the house, she is not a slave. It is true though that she has few pleasures- swimming in the local pool to which she must steal passes from the family she lives with, and going to church and having coffee afterwards with her friend Andrew with whom she has ‘deep’ conversations.
Fatou wonders often about why life is so difficult for herself and fellow Africans. At the end of the novella, I only hope it is getting better rather than worse.
A Brief but beautiful snapshot.