Problems, the debut novel from author Jade Sharma, is an ugly book, but I think it was meant to be that way. It reads like Bukowski filtered through Chad Kultgan but through the lens of a female living in New York City. It is filled with graphic sex that is heartlessly described that becomes titillating at pints, sad most of the time, and eventually, as it is with any book like this, tedious and rather uninteresting. It has a confidence that I like when it comes to first works of fiction, but I don’t think it is of the well-earned variety: it’s perspective is unique, but I have seen this type of song and dance before, and the last time I really enjoyed it I was a fresh 20 year old. But still, there is a certain car crash quality to this kind of work, and some of the dialogue, which this book has a lot of, really shines. It focuses on Maya, an Indian woman in her late twenties or early thirties, juggling more than a few vices. She has a heroin addiction, a coke habit and when she is not cheating on her husband with men she meets online, she is carrying on an affair with one of her professors thirties years older than she is. The book begins here, and it is about when what she calls a life comes crashing down in front of her. Like I said, the sex scenes, which come off tawdry and not somber, which I think was Sharma’s intention, become a chore to read and offer nothing new. But watching Maya sabotage her personal relationships, like the quasi-predatory one she has with her professor and a rather uncomfortable Thanksgiving she has with her husband’s family, a prelude to her desertion is where this book’s black heart beats the loudest and fastest. A book that can sometimes suffer from its unwillingness to beautify anything somehow walks away with an inkling of charm to take away from it.