We are living in the era of the self, in an era of malleable truth and widespread personal and political delusion. In these nine interlinked essays, Jia Tolentino, the New Yorker’s brightest young talent, explores her own coming of age in this warped and confusing landscape.
From the rise of the internet to her own appearance on an early reality TV show; from her experiences of ecstasy – both religious and chemical – to her uneasy engagement with our culture’s endless drive towards ‘self-optimisation’; from the phenomenon of the successful American scammer to her generation’s obsession with extravagant weddings, Jia Tolentino writes with style, humour and a fierce clarity about these strangest of times.
Following in the footsteps of American luminaries such as Susan Sontag, Joan Didion and Rebecca Solnit, yet with a voice and vision all her own, Jia Tolentino writes with a rare gift for elucidating nuance and complexity, coupled with a disarming warmth. This debut collection of her essays announces her exactly the sort of voice we need to hear from right now – and for many years to come.
Reviews of Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
- ‘Jia Tolentino is the best young essayist at work in the United States, one I’ve consistently admired and learned from. All through the book, single sentences flash like lightning to show something familiar in a startling way, but she also builds extended arguments with her usual, unusual blend of lyricism and scepticism, and in the end, we have a picture of America that was as missing as it was needed’ Rebecca Solnit
- ‘Jia Tolentino’s thinking surges with a fierce, electric lyriciShe refuses easy morals, false binaries, and redemptive epiphanies, but all that refusal is in the service of something tender, humane, and often achingly beautiful—an exploration of what we long for, how we long for it, and all the stories we tell ourselves along the way’ Leslie Jamison
- ‘Modern American life, especially as lived online, increasingly takes on qualities of insanity, even nightmare, and Trick Mirror has something profound to say about how that happened’ John Jeremiah Sullivan
- ‘It’s easy to write about things as you wish they were – or as others tell you they must be. It’s much harder to think for yourself, with the minimum of self-delusion. It’s even harder to achieve at a moment like this, when our thoughts are subject to unprecedented manipulation, monetization and surveillance. Yet Tolentino has managed to tell many inconvenient truths in Trick Mirror – and in enviable style. This is a whip-smart, challenging book that will prompt many of us to take a long, hard look in the mirror. It filled me with hope’ Zadie Smith
- ‘I worship at the altar of Jia Tolentino, who is undoubtedly the sharpest and most incisive cultural critic alive. Jia is a for-real genius, so damn funny it’s absurd, and her ability to cut through all the noise to reveal the heart of the matter is unmatched. What a gift to the universe that, in Trick Mirror, one of the subjects is herself. This book is a master class in how to think about the world in 2019’ Samantha Irby