"A novel about 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."
A novel about a heroin addict shouldn’t be this much fun to read ... Sharma counteracts these dark problems with Maya’s funny, quirky, clever narrative style ... if you’re going to write a novel of thoughts, this is how to do it ... The book’s vulgarity is deeply and powerfully feminist.
Maya, who tells her story mostly in the first person but occasionally the second, is both faultlessly honest and consistently deceitful. She lies, but tells us ... It’s not that Maya is malevolent; it’s that being a liar is part of the job description of being an addict. And also that, yeah, sometimes it’s just better to say your dad is alive to avoid questions about why he isn’t. But at the same time, a big part of this novel’s power is its injection of frankness ... The sex is unflinching ... Maya isn’t likable ... but she is smart, can be caring, and is deeply funny ... For a book dealing with issues and called Problems, Sharma’s debut is strangely uplifting. It leaves you on a high.
Problems is hypnotic and dank, an intimate gurgle from a person to whom you have become so endeared you decode it. And you know it’s beautiful ... Sharma gives readers the chance to dwell in the confrontational hailstorm that is Maya’s inner life, the thoughts she thinks that she can’t allow to escape her, in which she inadvertently reveals to herself what her problems really are ... a powerful, pitiless, razor-sharp ally that readers can take with them as they move through this fucked up world.