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Problems

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  2,082 ratings  ·  310 reviews
Dark, raw, and very funny, Problems introduces us to Maya, a young woman with a smart mouth, time to kill, and a heroin hobby that isn't much fun anymore. Maya's been able to get by in New York on her wits and a dead-end bookstore job for years, but when her husband leaves her and her favorite professor ends their affair, her barely-calibrated life descends into chaos, and ...more
Paperback, 180 pages
Published July 5th 2016 by Coffee House Press
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Ana Maria I think it has something to do with yogurt because thats what her diet mostly is in the book. Could also be representing foil which some people smoke …moreI think it has something to do with yogurt because thats what her diet mostly is in the book. Could also be representing foil which some people smoke heroin from, but since she only snorted it, I think it's just yogurt....(less)

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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,082 ratings  ·  310 reviews


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Paul Bryant
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
PART ONE

Only today 30 June 2020 I discovered that Jade Sharma died nearly a year ago, on 24 July 2019 and this was a shock, first because she died at age 39, second because it took me a year to find out – why was that? It seems it wasn’t very widely noticed, this death, and I still can’t find any kind of obituary, there’s no cause of death mentioned anywhere, there’s very few mentions anywhere, and this is very bad, she was a fierce funny devastating writer of one single splendid must-read nove
...more
Thomas
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Addicted to heroin, unsatisfying relationships with men, and her own torturous life in New York City, our protagonist Maya has more than a couple of problems. Though quite intelligent and observant about the little details in life, she struggles to break free from a cycle of self-destruction that leaves her always wanting more. Avoid this book if you have a frail heart, because Maya engages in loads of explicit sex and drug use, riding the waves of an unstable life until she wears herse
...more
Oriana
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm getting in trouble (again, forever) elsewhere for disparaging pompous white men and the pompous white books they pompously write, so I guess I'd better say some things about this one, which is written by a non-pompous non-white non-man.

Guess what, haters? I didn't really like this that much either, which I know may startle you but which should also reveal that I am not doing any of this out of knee-jerk pettiness #becausepatriarchy — I am just looking for good fucking books to read and ther
...more
Blair
Partway through reading Problems I started sketching out a review that talked about how it was part of the first wave of Fucked-Up Millennial Woman novels – a trend which has since seen a swift, arguably more sophisticated renaissance, with ever-more irreverent and abstract permutations, so that a straightforward 'I'm a mess' story now seems lacking in nuance – and how I probably would've liked it more a few years ago. But then the story began to turn into something else, and I changed my mind.

I
...more
Paltia
May 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Boring misguided effort to jump on the bandwagon of writing about addiction, sexual contacts and fantasies, and various afflictions. It is juvenile and self absorbed to the point of a big yawn. I imagine the author thinking she’d put all the right ingredients in to titillate readers unfamiliar with a sleazoid lifestyle and have herself a movie deal in no time. This book was called the female Trainspotting. Nowhere even remotely close to Welsh’s talents. I’m not even sure what to do with it. I wo ...more
Gumble's Yard
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
“Beauty or meaning is not intrinsic to suffering. But if you can take the suffering and find the parts that are funny or profound, you can create your world into something that might be entertaining for someone else for a while. Eventually, maybe, that time will have been useful. More useful than, like, working in a bank.”


This book was originally published in the US by Emily Books, a publisher “which celebrates the best work of transgressive writers of the past, present and future”. From 20
...more
Vincent Scarpa
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jesus fucking Christ this book hurt almost as much as it made me cackle. Sometimes it did both at the same time.
Constantine
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x-4-star, z2020-03
Rating: 4.0/5.0

Genre:
Literary Fiction

I really enjoyed this debut novel. It is funny, strange, honest, vulgar, unshameful, sometimes over the top, sometimes subtle. Full of mixed feelings in a good way. The protagonist Maya is a non-apologetic cheater who cheats on her husband with a much older man and is also a drug addict! She is the bad protagonist who you will dislike her actions but will like her honesty. She is honest with the readers! Her voice just throws on you whatever she has in her mi
...more
Tommi
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-for-hbr
“It is an art to make you so unlovable.” In her debut novel, Problems, Jade Sharma portrays the life of a troubled young woman, Maya, living in a tiny New York apartment she’s bought with inherited money. She works in a book shop, and is unhappily married to Peter. She maintains an affair with an older professor of hers, Ogden, and is most of the time lost in a daze of Xanax, Suboxone, or heroin. None of the plot points invoke a necessarily original scenario, but Sharma’s power resides in the ra ...more
El
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
I'll be honest in that after finishing Sorry to Disrupt the Peace and now Jade Sharma's novel, I'm feeling a bit conflicted. Conflicted because they have each made me feel better about my own life, but awful because I found myself relating with each of their protagonists in really surprising ways considering I am like neither of the characters.

Here we have Maya, a young Indian-American woman who has, for lack of a better phrase, a slight drug problem. She's sleeping with a professor, but she her
...more
Zachary F.
"But then you grow up, and all the extras are real people. Like when you look down from a bridge and have to wrap your mind around how in each little toy car is a real person with a whole life. There are smart people everywhere. There are idiots everywhere. There is no order to it. There is no reason you're not dying in a cancer ward and some little kid is."

Generally speaking, there are two kinds of drug books: harrowing addiction narratives, and zany substance abuse romps à la Hunter S. Tho
...more
BookishStitcher
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finished 2 midterms yesterday and I got a 97 on one and an 88 on the other so today I'm taking a break having some fun and finishing up some books.

This book is so raw that it's hard to read. I kept waffling between giving it a 2 star and 4 star because I wasn't comfortable with a lot of the graphic stuff she covers, but the title is true to the book. Maya has problems lots and lots of them. Drugs, sex, school, job, eating disorder, marriage, affairs, and so much more. The author doesn't shy aw
...more
Michelle
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In this simply titled debut novel, "Problems" author Jade Sharma fully explores the disturbing psychological intensity of the inner emotional mindset and actions of a young woman impaired by an addictive personality and substance abuse that eventually split and fractured her life.

Maya, was an intelligent weight conscious twenty-something biracial beauty, who lived with her devoted bartender husband Peter in a sunless NYC basement apartment that had once been the scene of a murder-suicide. Workin
...more
Meredith Crawford
May 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
A mercifully short, mildly entertaining (in a flinch-y way) book about an abysmal person.
Subashini
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-fiction
"Give me new problems. I'm tired of the same old problems.
Why can't someone interest me in my own life?"

This book is like Notes from Underground meets Trainspotting meets The Bell Jar, but with a brown woman. It's short but it's not easy; it got under my skin. An itch that won't go away. Or as The Rumpus describes it, it's "like a blister". I relate to Maya in terms of sensibility, but she's dealing with some harrowing issues like heroin addiction, an eating disorder, and the end of a marriage.
...more
Varshita
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books where the author's words feel like a reflection of your own mind and that is scary because it's all out there but comforting at the same time because you know you are not the only one who thinks this way. The story of Maya as a drug addict's life is raw, funny, liberating and powerful all at the same time. Highly recommend. ...more
Eric Anderson
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every generation needs a new young narrative voice to articulate the feelings of disaffection that come with that particular time. It feels like Maya, the narrator of Jade Sharma's debut novel, could be the outsider voice of this generation. Her marriage is inane. Her lover is distant. Her job at a bookstore is going nowhere. Her thesis is unfinished. Her mother is nagging. Her dope habit is getting worse. She's self-conscious about her body size, her skin colour and her distinctly non-PC sexual ...more
LALa
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So, I don't really know what to say about this one. I instantly connected with Sharma's style of writing, and didn't want the experience to end. There was just something about the... heh I guess "rawness" for lack of better wording, that drew me in and its delivery.
Even though this book was kind of short, I had to take a pause while reading because in hoping there was more work to look forward to, I learned that Jade Sharma died last year (2019). The content of the book, and some events that ha
...more
Robert
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone has their own form of literary comfort food and I guess mine is female narrators talking about their defects in an uncompromising way. This all started when I read Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, then other books which were similar began to creep in. I have mentioned them before but I will say that my favourite is Patty Yumi Cottrell’s Sorry to Disrupt the Peace.

Jade Sharma’s debut novel Problems is just the book I needed. Not only does it consist of a narrator who does not hesitate to talk
...more
Mel
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
Wow. In a dirty, honest voice like that of Chloe Caldwell, with a large dollop of Otessa Moshfegh's blasé-style characters, Jade Sharma's Maya is an intoxicating mess to behold. She is a young woman in NYC, married to a man she just happened to end up with (4 years ago; married in Vegas), whose conservative family she can't stand (and vice versa), sleeping with a professor at the college she half-assed her way through (and then dropped the ball with re: her thesis). Though she's still making it ...more
Resh (The Book Satchel)
True to the name, this book is full of problems!! Maya is struggling with money, career, drug abuse, relationships with men and poor choices in the city of New York.

What to expect
- Maya's struggles on her path to destruction
- drug abuse and unhealthy relationships
- The book is written with no breaks. So it seems like we are in Maya's mind or rather talking to her, which perhaps is the best way to convey what Jade Sharma intended. I loved the format. It made me feel very connected to the characte
...more
Jessica Sullivan
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Give me new problems. I’m tired of the same old problems.”

Maya is a part-time heroin user with full-time problems. Her marriage is doomed. She’s having an affair with a 61-year-old man. She has an eating disorder and mania and, oh yeah, the heroin.

When her marriage and her affair end around the same time, her life descends even further into chaos.

This book reminded me a lot of Trainspotting, from the subject matter to the cadence of the prose. It’s dark and raw and obscene. It’s also witty and
...more
Laurie
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Behind every crazy woman is a man sitting very quietly, saying, ‘What? I’m not doing anything.’ ”
This line is just one example of this author's really insightful, funny, yet tragic take on heroin addiction for a young woman in a high-tech, superficial world that starts very quickly closing in on her psyche. Unlikeable and selfish but highly engaging with an incredible talent for getting immediately to the raw truth of her own failings, as well as everyone else's, this is a really gritty, x-rat
...more
Chrisolu
This is Junkie by William S. Burroughs written with a feminist slant in brown skin. I enjoyed it so much, I want to read again.
Tina Haibodi
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-bios
This might be in my top 5 books of 2020. The way that Maya articulates satircally the desire to be ambitious and likable after years of solely seeking affirmation through overcompensation because of her immigrant parents' lack of affection was incredible. Recommended this to every fellow first-gen kid I know. ...more
Katie
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-books, 2016
[3.5 stars]

Sharma’s debut novel, Problems, tells the story of Maya simply trying to live her life, and for her, the struggle is real. Minimally employed, unhappily married, risque affair in progress, an on-again-off-again (but mostly on-again) drug habit, mother with ailing health, and art on her wall she hates — Maya’s got some problems.

Truly, nothing a whole lot plot-wise happens in this book; yet, it doesn’t really have to. It’s more about experiencing the day to day with Maya, including all
...more
Bookforum Magazine
"I relate to anyone who, on showing up to a restaurant or house party, immediately needs to know where the bathroom is, making every entrance an emergency. I feels so much of Maya, which is why I sound a little like I hate her. She extends into public space the ugliness of the self in a bathroom, where all the surfaces are cool, the flesh unfortunate, whereas I'm too vain or polite not to spend an hour in the bathroom before showing my face–why should anyone have to see me the way I see myself w ...more
Courtney Maum
Jul 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Loved this. And you will too if you liked "Love Me Back", "Tongue Party", "Making Nice" or "The Wetlands." Was totally engaged by the voice and remained very sympathetic to the narrator even while she was sabotaging herself. ...more
Marquette
May 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
It was like Alexander and terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for a sex addicted, lewd, heroin addict. This book was terrible, horrible and very very bad.
Greg Zimmerman
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really good. A courageous and terrifically written novel. Like Jenny Offill's Department of Speculation meets Requiem For A Dream. Can't wait to see what this writer does next! ...more
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“Behind every crazy woman is a man sitting very quietly, saying, “What? I’m not doing anything.” 7 likes
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