I was really happy yesterday to read on the Facebook page of The Paris Review, that for a limited time only, they have a new short story by Zadie Smith (London, 1975) on the public area of their web page. "Miss Adele Admist the Corsets" is my first encounter with the work of Smith but will most certainly not be my last. I have been given a free copy of her recent novel NW and will now prioritize reading that highly regarded novel.
My main purpose in this post is to let my readers know they can read this story (but The Paris Review will take it down once issue 209 comes out so if you are interested, read it soon) online. The story centers on a 46 year old transvestite man of color who works in a cross dressing show in New York City. It is really about finding a way a way to deal with all the prejuduces faced by those a bit different. It is about being different in the big city. Smith really brings the man to life for us. She lets us figure out for ourselves that he is a gay man who dresses up as a woman for a living. He is facing the fact that he is getting a bit old for this. His once pristine body is not what it used to be. He needs to buy a new corset to hold him into shape for the shows. The very real fun and power of the story begins at the corset shop. The shop owners are a couple, maybe they are Muslims, maybe Orthodox Jews, as seen through the eyes of Adele. It is a comedy of incorrect mutual perceptions that sends Miss Adele off the deep end.
This is a very enjoyable, perceptive story. I am very glad I read it.
You can read it here