Saskia Bailey's Whatever: the millennial memoir to end all millennial memoirs

Bailey brilliantly articulates what it feels like to grow up in a world that teeters on the edge of annihilation

29 March 2019 - 10:37
A 21st Century Memoir.
Whatever: A 21st Century Memoir.
Image: Jacana Media

“My generation tends to romanticise death. Scars from cutting are considered beautiful by the internet and people have even invented Apps that help teenagers commit suicide.”

“I’m terrified of doing most things in case they’re average – and I never, ever want to be just ‘average’. It’s definitely a trait of the apathetic millennial at large, that fear of not being great.”

Saskia Bailey has burst onto the local literary scene to give voice to the much-maligned social media generation’s mind.

Just 19 years old when she completed her debut memoir Whatever in 2018, she brilliantly articulates what it feels like to grow up in a world that teeters on the edge of annihilation.

Whatever − the millennial’s stock answer to everything – is not your usual coming-of-age book or a traditional memoir, but rather consists of 30 fragmentary chapters brilliantly embracing the millennial experience.

In an unfiltered, dark and often hilarious style, Bailey captures the narcissistic world of social media dictated by followers and likes. She ruminates on sex, death, drugs, white privilege, Plett Rage, the future and getting thrown off a plane in Bali.

Brought up by two eccentric artist parents and the granddaughter of Drum founder Jim Bailey, Saskia grew up in an extraordinary home where a train station of wildly interesting local and international guests form the wallpaper of her childhood. There’s Hugh Masekela, the creepy British patron, the Foreign High Commissioner, and the real “Lady Jane” from the Rolling Stones song. Saskia observes the invasion of guests like a hungry voyeur, at times an ancient sage, at others a resentful, depressed with-the-world hormonal teenager.

When 14-year-old Saskia Bailey’s writing was shown by her artist father, Beezy, to David Bowie before his death, the legendary music icon responded: “Watch out ee cummings.” Family friend and world renowned muso/producer, Brian Eno said, “Scary”.

Saskia Bailey was born in 1998 in Cape Town, where she still resides. She has attended five different schools, been a fashion intern, a bartender and is currently an English major at UCT. Whatever is her debut memoir.

  • Article provided by MFBooks Joburg, an imprint of Jacana Media
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