With her previous translations/versions of ancient Greek plays and poetry, Carson has proved that she is the preeminent classicist of our time. She follows her previous efforts with her own version (read: loosely based) on Euripides’ Helen. In Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, she combines Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe into one persona and places both women in each other's milieu. In doing so, Carson creates a powerful, book-length monologue that tells two similar tales of sorrow, separated by millennia, and explores the way the world destroys women through myth-making powered by the male gaze.
Whether she's telling a very short story about a mother and a daughter discussing animal cruelty while on vacation, or a longer story about a trio of celebrities on a road trip to escape New York during 9/11, Grand Union shows that Zadie Smith is as adept with short fiction as she is with the novel. For a form of literature that always seems to enhance the faults of lesser writers, for Zadie Smith, short stories only make her shine brighter than ever.
How can something be so melancholy and yet extremely funny? This is the tightrope that Waller-Bridge walks in her play, Fleabag, which is now the basis for the hit TV show, and which has ushered Waller-Bridge into the echelons of the entertainment elite. All the reasons why she has been enthusiastically received can be seen in her play, which evokes the pathos and the humor of modern life quite well. The main character is human and relatable, teetering between likable and unlikable; and the dialogue is razor sharp, deploying humor and sadness at all the right places.