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Kiley Reid: “Come and Get It” – Exploring Money, Class, and Cultural Capital in Modern America

In the realm of contemporary American literature, Kiley Reid stands as a captivating voice, delving into the intricate tapestry of money, class, and cultural capital. Her latest novel, “Come and Get It,” is a poignant exploration of these themes, inviting readers to confront uncomfortable truths and question societal norms. Through an in-depth analysis of Reid’s work and exclusive interviews, this article uncovers the motivations behind her writing, her unique approach to storytelling, and the profound impact of her novels on the literary landscape.

I. Inception of an Idea:

The genesis of “Come and Get It” can be traced back to a series of interviews Reid conducted with undergraduates, delving into their complex relationships with money. These conversations unveiled a web of perceptions, anxieties, and aspirations surrounding wealth and its role in shaping their lives. One particular anecdote, the practice of receiving “practice paychecks” from a father despite not working for him, sparked Reid’s imagination and laid the foundation for the novel’s plot.

II. A Journey of Exploration:

Reid’s decision to embark on a follow-up to her highly acclaimed debut novel, “Such a Fun Age,” was met with both excitement and trepidation. The recognition and accolades received for “Such a Fun Age” raised expectations for her subsequent work. Reid’s nomination for the Booker Prize generated discussions about race and the history of racism associated with the award. Throughout her fiction, Reid consistently delves into the intricate dynamics of class and racial inequality, highlighting their subtle manifestations in everyday interactions.

III. The Essence of “Come and Get It”:

Set in a university town in Arkansas, “Come and Get It” explores the lives of three women with distinct relationships to money and consumption. Agatha Paul, a visiting professor, grapples with a recent breakup and indulges in extravagant spending. Kennedy Cousins, a socially awkward student, seeks solace in shopping to cope with her insecurities. Millie Cousins, Kennedy’s roommate, is laser-focused on saving money and achieving the dream of homeownership. The novel delves into the excess and loneliness that consumerism can foster, particularly in the context of college life.

IV. Drawing from Personal Experience:

Reid’s own experience as an RA in a New York college dormitory provided valuable insights into the challenges and anxieties faced by students. Her acting career, though short-lived, led her to pursue writing as a passion and eventually a graduate degree in fiction. Reid’s initial rejections in applying for graduate programs fueled her determination to succeed as a writer.

V. Unveiling Uncomfortable Truths:

Reid’s writing often centers around moments of discomfort and social awkwardness, exploring the underlying causes and motivations behind such feelings. She finds inspiration in nonfiction works that examine socioeconomic issues and the impact of consumerism on society. The challenge of balancing real-world experiences with fictional narratives is a delicate one, requiring careful consideration of ethical implications.

VI. A New Phase of Life:

Reid’s life has undergone significant changes since the publication of her first novel, including becoming a mother to a young child. Motherhood has influenced her writing process, providing a fresh perspective and a heightened sense of urgency. Reid is actively involved in teaching at the University of Michigan and is also working on the screen adaptation of “Such a Fun Age.”

VII. Addressing Economic Inequality:

Reid’s novels confront the harsh realities of economic inequality in America, particularly the persistent racial wealth gap. She believes that acknowledging and addressing this issue is crucial for creating a more just and equitable society. Reid’s writing seeks to open up conversations about alternative socioeconomic systems, challenging readers to imagine a world beyond the current constraints.

VIII. The Meaning of Success:

Reid reflects on the surreal experience of receiving widespread recognition for her debut novel and the subsequent media attention. She recognizes the privilege of having a platform to share her stories but acknowledges the contrast between the private act of writing and the public promotion of a work. While she values her privacy, Reid engages in interviews and public appearances to connect with readers and promote her work.

IX. Embracing Change and Growth:

Reid’s goal as a writer is to continually evolve and challenge herself with each new novel. She seeks to explore different genres, styles, and tones, drawing inspiration from diverse artists and writers. Her current reading of James Baldwin’s works has further ignited her passion for experimentation and pushing boundaries in her own writing.


Kiley Reid’s “Come and Get It” is a thought-provoking and insightful novel that delves into the complex intersections of money, class, and cultural capital in contemporary America. Through her evocative storytelling and relatable characters, Reid invites readers to confront uncomfortable truths, question societal norms, and imagine alternative possibilities for a more equitable world. As Reid continues to explore new directions in her writing, her readers eagerly await her next literary offering, promising further exploration of the human condition and the complexities of modern society.