The Devil Wears Prada meets The Bell Jar in this story of a wide-eyed Ivy League grad who discovers that his dream of “making it” at leading New York City fashion magazine Régine may well be his undoing.
Elián San Jamar knew from childhood that he was destined for a better life than the one his working-class multiracial parents share in Texas—a life inspired by Régine’s pages. A full ride to Yale opens the door to a more glamorous world, and he quickly befriends Madeline and Dorian, both scions of incredible wealth and privilege. With their help, he reinvents himself, and after four decadent years he graduates as Ethan St. James. But reality hits hard when Ethan arrives at Régine and is relegated to the lowest rung of the ladder.
Mordantly funny and emotionally ruthless, An Innocent Fashion is the saga of a true millennial—naïve, idealistic, struggling with his identity and sexuality—trying to survive in an industry, and in a city, notorious for attracting new graduates only to chew them up and spit them out. Oscillating between melodrama and whip-smart sarcasm, pretentiousness and heartbreaking vulnerability, increasingly disillusioned with Régine and Madeline and Dorian, Ethan begins to unravel.
As the narratives of his conflicted childhood, cloistered collegiate experience, and existential crisis braid together, this deeply moving coming-of-age novel for the twenty-first century spirals toward a devastating realization: You can follow your dreams, but what happens if your dreams are just not enough?
*Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Like Malamud's best stories, this novel unerringly evokes an immigrant world of cramped circumstances and great expectations. Malamud defined the immigrant experience in a way that has proven vital for several generations of writers.
"His best novel . . . The Assistant is as tightly written as a prose poem." --Morris Dickstein in Leopards in the Temple: The Transformation of American Fiction 1945-1970