Based on the conversational style, cultural relevance, and range of her work – which encompasses everything from current events newspieces to pop-culture listicles to personal essays, often about her family or Indian heritage – Toronto writer Scaachi Koul seems like the kind of mordantly funny, intelligently cool 20-something urbanite you’d definitely want to be friends with. This is ironic because, as she indicates in her new essay collection, her preteen self-image was the complete opposite (the story of her middle-school quest to become “cool,” “elusive,” and “chill” by way of T-shirts bearing inappropriate slogans is a good example of this).
Fans of the author’s pieces for Buzzfeed, where she works as a culture writer, or her Twitter account, where upwards of 15,800 followers relish her incisive wit and delightfully dark email correspondences with her father, will no doubt find this debut title – already a Globe and Mail bestseller – both entertaining and engrossing. It manages to distill the magnetic personality Koul exudes in her prior writing (some of which appears in the book), while also taking readers into new, more intimate territory.
From quips about rimming a cocktail glass with children’s Tylenol or her flair for effortlessly growing a beard rivalling any man’s to frank discussions of white privilege, online harassment, and her unfortunate familiarity with date rape drugs, One Day We’ll All be Dead is alternately light-hearted and heavy hitting, rich with humour that is never without an edge of wisdom and cultural criticism, while simultaneously showing Koul to be as self-conscious, sentimental, and sometimes lost and confused as the rest of us. Her experiences as a first-generation immigrant and woman of colour in North America compound moments of relatability with illumination.
The title will, naturally, be grouped with other recent feminist essay collections. Koul’s pieces are less didactic – though they broach subjects of racism, sexism, rape culture, and other pertinent societal issues – and more anecdotal, reading, in a way, as a collection of life stories told by a friend. This is in no way a shortcoming: it is in her personal stories that Koul’s humour and insight really shine.