In the vein of Luster and Queenie, an unflinching portrayal of high-paid sex work in the age of the internet-an intoxicating, bold debut from a dazzling new voice.
Sugar, Baby follows Agnes, a mixed-race 21-year-old whose life seems to be heading nowhere. Still living at home, she works as a cleaner and spends all her money in clubs on the weekends searching for distractions from her mundane life. That is until she meets Emily, daughter of one of her cleaning clients, who lives in London and works as a model . . . and a sugar baby, dating rich older men for money.
Emily's life is the escape Agnes has been longing for-extravagant tasting menus, champagne on tap, glamorous hotels with unlimited room service, designer gifts from dates who call her beautiful. But this new lifestyle is the last straw for her religious mother Constance.
Kicked out of her family home, Agnes moves in with Emily and the other sugar babies in their fancy London flat and is drawn deeper and deeper into their world. But these women come from money: they possess a safety net Agnes does not. And as she is thrown from one precarious relationship to the next-a married man who wants to show off the glamourous, exotic girl on his arm; a Russian billionaire's wife who makes Agnes central to a sex party in Miami-she finds herself searching for fulfillment just as desperately as she was before.
A compelling journey of self-discovery that offers sharp commentary on race, beauty, and class, Sugar, Baby is an electric, original, spellbinding novel that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.
“This is a propulsive read that tackles myriad attitudes toward sex work, from condemnation to celebration, through a distinctly feminist lens. Accompanying the partying with perceptive social commentary, Saintclare refuses to romanticize the gritty details of sugaring-inviting the reader into a whirlwind of champagne, sex, and money that is at times claustrophobic, scary, and toxic. Saintclare modernizes outdated sex-work narratives, honoring the bonds formed between women instead.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Saintclare debuts with a provocative tale of a 21-year-old cleaner drawn into sex work … This powerful story makes [her] one to watch.” —Publishers Weekly
“Celine Saintclare's captivating debut, Sugar, Baby, is, on its surface, about the limitless power of beauty, but underneath that narrative lurks a second, darker one, in which Saintclare shows us in heartbreaking detail that there are indeed limits to what that power can buy. Sugar, Baby is an elegantly crafted bait-and-switch, where a story about the ease and glamour of sex work cracks open to reveal a deeper and more delicious secret: that the true sweetness of life lies not in the comfort of being kept, but in the autonomy we are able to maintain for ourselves. And the beauty of that kind of living-hand-made and hard-won-is priceless.” —Destiny O. Birdsong, author of NOBODY'S MAGIC
“A witty, propulsive and intimate examination of sexual commerce, the painful pleasures of self-objectification, and the liberatory power of art-making featuring a tenderhearted heroine I never stopped caring about. Sugar, Baby is everything.” —Chantal V. Johnson, author of POST-TRAUMATIC
“Sugar, Baby is a daring novel that explores the commodification of desire and the body and the trappings of respectability politics in a world that profits off our shame. With Agnes, Saintclare has created an unforgettable narrator who is full of bravery, vulnerability, and heart.” —Claire Jimenez, author of WHAT HAPPENED TO RUTHY RAMIREZ
“Saintclare's writing sizzles-she has a knack for the sensual, making even the mundane feel like a revelation. I was absolutely sucked into Agnes' world, she took me by the hand and didn't let me go until the final pages, wondering what becomes of all the characters we come to know and love.” —Tembe Denton-Hurst, author of HOMEBODIES
“Incredibly glamorous, incredibly dark and incredibly hopeful all at once, Sugar, Baby is a brilliantly compulsive exploration of class, power, sexuality, and our hyper-fixation with youth and beauty. I loved it!” —Katie Bishop, author of THE GIRLS OF SUMMER