But Ali isn’t the only one pushing the envelope with a fictionalized account of a real person. Mark Helprin’s “Freddy and Fredericka,” a playful parody of a future king and queen of England, is a thinly veiled satire of Charles and Diana. And Curtis Sittenfeld’s “American Wife,” about a bookish woman with liberal tendencies who marries a ne’er-do-well rake – who happens to be the son of a famous politician – and who loves booze and parties and eventually becomes President? We don’t even have to tell you it’s the fictional account of Laura Bush’s life. (Ms. Sittenfeld gently, but firmly, criticized “Untold Story” as bland, simplistic, and banal, in a review in the New York Times.)
Here’s how Ali responded to criticism that her novel was a low-brow story on celebrity, in an interview with NPR: ”To certain members of the literary establishment, it's a kind of crime to write a book that's entertaining and easy to read," she says – but easy reads can also be thoughtful. "I certainly had to grapple with as much complexity and social situations and issues in writing this book as I did in anything else I've ever written…. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that issues of fame and celebrity, whether you like it or not, are an important part of modern life.”
And then there’s that ghoulish Newsweek cover that’s already sparked thousands of outraged comments.
It depicts Diana, smartly styled as always, in a cream-colored sheath, purse, and hat, strolling alongside Kate Middleton, the daughter-in-law she never knew.