x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The Red Book is an animated read about Harvard gossip

An entertaining read focusing on varsity life at the prestigious Harvard University.

The Red Book
Deborah Copaken Kogan
The Red Book Deborah Copaken Kogan

The title of the former war photojournalist and Harvard alumni Deborah Copaken Kogan’s latest novel directly references the Ivy League university’s answer to Facebook. The Red Book is, of course, a red book sent to Harvard graduates every five years for the purpose of being filled with their latest biographical updates, professional upgrades and blue blood gossip. Naturally, little good comes of it in the world of fiction.

Kogan’s main grads are a diverse lot: Addison, the wife neglected by her husband, biracial Clover, who recently lost her job, Mia, the ex-aspiring actress, and Jane, a journalist struggling to cope with her mother’s death. Adding to their own personal dramas is the upcoming 20th reunion of Harvard’s class of ’89 at which all their old friends and flames will gather.

Juxtaposing Red Book entries with peeks into the unfolding chaos and epiphanies experienced by her protagonists, Kogan manages to churn out a plot worthy of its 300-plus pages. While her writing sometimes veers towards the stuffy side, thanks to liberal abuse of the Oxford comma, The Red Book is nonetheless an animated, entertaining read.