The book is also a further unpacking of Mr. Gessen’s personal philosophy on the proper function of the novel: to hold up an honest mirror to society, no matter how frivolous and unserious that society may be. Young people in big cities like New York, Mr. Gessen said: “are willing to acknowledge that they’re a class only ironically. So they’ll have their ironic kickball games. Their ironic magazines.”
“They’re willing to have the privileges of their class,” Mr. Gessen added, “to go to a good college, and be subsidized in their New York lives by their parents, but maybe not willing to be written about.”The result, Mr. Gessen said, is that the everyday lives of young urban adults are no longer considered appropriate subjects for ambitious novels.