- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2017

D.C. is a complex city. On the one hand, it breathes and eats political scandal. On the other, it’s an incredibly nerdy place. Finally, there’s a book that reflects that duality.

“Young Jane Young” tells the story of a Florida congressional intern who has an affair with her boss in 2001 and then, after the fallout, rebuilds her life with her daughter in Maine before deciding to run for mayor in her new town.

Gabrielle Zevin, a New York Times best-selling author, will discuss her latest book Sunday at the District’s East City Bookshop. It’ll be the first time she’s in the District for a book tour.

“I’m looking forward to connecting with my D.C. readers,” Ms. Zevin told The Washington Times, adding that she believes “Young Jane Young” is very relevant to the goings-on of the capital.

“Young Jane Young” is told through three different generations of women, a choice the author said was inspired by “thinking about how books change when you read them at different ages.”

“Scandal affects people differently, even people who haven’t been born yet,” Ms. Zevin said, pointing out that while younger characters’ reactions tend to be more dramatic, the older characters’ ways of dealing are more comedic.

Much of “Young Jane Young” was, in part, inspired by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but when Ms. Zevin looks back on the affair now, “I think of things quite differently.”

Much like the Lewinsky scandal, the fictional Jane endures online harassment, a phenomenon magnified in the 21st century.

“We’re babies when it comes to the internet,” Ms. Zevin said. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter aren’t very old, and we’re still figuring out social media’s impact, she said. “We don’t know what anything means or how long it lasts.”

Ms. Zevin likens the present-day internet to having your permanent record from grade school following you forever “because people can just Google you.”

While the internet has changed some of the nature of scandal in American politics, one aspect of government hasn’t changed that much: the lack of women in political positions. Ms. Zevin’s grandmother was born before 1920, the year Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The U.S. still hasn’t had a female president, and women, despite being 50 percent of the population, comprise less than 20 percent of Congress, which Ms. Zevin sees as a major problem.

“I wanted to write a story about feminism for different generations,” she says. “Feminism has evolved from my grandmother to my mother to me.”

Part of that evolution includes intersectional representation, which “Young Jane Young” deploys particularly well.

When she first started reading fiction, Ms. Zevin said her teachers ensured that she read rich, interesting feminist novels — books like “Black Water” by Joyce Carol Oates, Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston.

“I’ve always wanted to write a feminist novel,” Ms. Zevin said. “Finally, I think I have done that.”



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