There’s no shortage of Jane Austen retellings. But it’s safe to say that none of them are quite like Ibi Zoboi’s modern-day reimagining of Pride and Prejudice. Zoboi, whose prior novel, American Street, was a finalist for the National Book Award, continues her exploration of the complexities of American neighborhoods through a love story worthy of the legacy of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
Zoboi’s novel is set in Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood whose residents—like narrator Zuri Benitez and her family—are largely working-class African-Americans and Latinos who have lived there for decades. But Bushwick appears next in line for gentrification, and Zuri’s not sure she likes the changes. Her concerns come to a head when the Darcys, a wealthy black family, move across the street, completely changing her street’s culture. Zuri can’t deny that the younger Darcy brother, Darius, is fine—but she can’t get over her resentment of what the Darcys stand for, nor can she forgive Darius’ own prejudices about the Benitez family’s very different lifestyle.
Pride is not a connect-the-dots retelling, and that’s what makes it so compelling. Zoboi utilizes Pride and Prejudice’s dramatic potential to set the stage, but Zuri and Darius’ story stands on its own. Likewise, Zoboi’s treatment of race, class and gentrification will effectively open some readers’ eyes while also resonating deeply with those who see these issues playing out in their own lives.