When you think about simple one-word titles reminiscent of diamonds or jewelry or money, you think about simple unpolished writers with a propensity for small words and even smaller plots. You think street literature at most, self-published, crawling with profanity, sex, drugs, and violence. A story that looks like the writer made it up as she went along. No real beginning. The climax, if there is one, is ambiguous, and the end leaves loose ends, story lines unfinished. You don’t think intricate plot, vivid imagery, gritty dialogue and detail that involve the reader to the point where he is transported to the very room where the conversation is taking place. You don’t think superior storytelling, which is why the title, “Platinum”, Aliya S. King’s debut fiction novel, has not done her book justice.
King tells a tale about rap artists and music execs and the wives that love them, but this is no love story. This is a story that bleeds nonfiction. You will read about the naïve housewife grappling with her husband’s crack addiction, the R & B starlet and her secret relationship, the fashion designer coping with her husband’s infidelity, the dream girl who has slept with all of their men, and the writer, largely similar to King herself, who weaves all of their stories together. Ms. King teases her readers leaving us curious as to what real life people her characters are imitating and she does it well.
As a former staff writer at The Source, and contributor to Vibe, Giant, Essence, Upscale, and more, King has firsthand knowledge of how the industry looks behind the scenes. This girl knows what she’s talking about. She’s sat with wives and their husbands and listened to the gut wrenching details chronicling their daily life, a life sweetened by money, fame, power, and a luxurious lifestyle, but soured with the incompleteness of a detached marriage and the realities of infidelity. King humanizes her characters and leaves the reader questioning the definition of quality of life. She doesn’t package her book neatly and tell us all of the answers, but instead, she uncovers the facts, as bold as they are, and allows the reader to see the picture she is painting. At its heart, this is a story about love and its blinding effects. It’s much deeper than a fairytale that ends “happily ever after” because in the real world, life goes on after the last page is turned and the book is closed. In the real world, women exposed to everything the world has to offer, with more money than they can count or spend, have to choose how to live, weighing their emotions and dignity against an easy lifestyle that feels good on paper.
Platinum opens a conversation about the politics of life and relationships. It whispers throughout, what would you do? Spellbinding affects grip the reader and keep you turning pages until the very end. This is not street lit as the name might suggest, but instead a complicated drama. Complicated, in part, because King’s sentences are well crafted and her characters heavy with substance, but more importantly because we are taken involuntarily into the minds of the characters and forced to reflect upon our own tolerance threshold.
Bravo Ms. King. Job well done!
Platinum is in stores now.
Platinum receives a PARL
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