The day that I called up Scaachi Koul to chat about her fantastic debut book, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, she apologized for sounding like she was hungover because, as it turned out, she was hungover. I never would have known. Though our conversation took place the morning after the 26-year-old author’s engagement party (a function that, Instagram informed me, included a jug of strawberry-infused gin branded “Scaachi’s smashy gin” and some of the characters her book lovingly portrays), she handled every one of my half-formed questions with the wry precision that anyone who’s ever read her writing would likely expect. Even, I should add, when I started off by asking not about her book’s ideas or themes, but her non-traditional engagement ring. (Full disclosure: I know her IRL just well enough to get away with it.)

Is it non-traditional?” she asked me, a little baffled. Yes, I said. Most brides get engaged with a diamond solitaire, where the centerpiece of Koul’s ring is a gleaming red ruby. (Again, something I learned from Instagram.)

Koul told me about the time, long ago, that her fiancé (“Hamhock” in the book) first put out the feelers for bling specs. “He’d asked me, what kind of ring would you like? And I was like, ‘well what would you get?’ And he said exactly that: square cut diamond, thick white gold band. The moment he said that to me I thought, whoa, we’ve gotta do some work.”

It’s partly this kind of matter-of-fact real talk that makes Koul’s book so funny and relatable, and at moments heartbreakingly sad. Whether she’s hashing out conflicting feelings about a cousin’s traditional Indian wedding or recalling college friendships she accidentally outgrew, Koul processes the events of life in a way that leaves room for messiness. And who among us isn’t a hot, steaming mess in our own special way?

For Koul, that has come to mean embracing vulnerability instead of just being — as she puts it — bitter and sarcastic about the things that hurt. “Sometimes, for people like me, being unhappy is easier,” she says. “Being miserable is the easy way out. It is worth, at times, examining why you feel like that. But you have to go there.”

How do you embrace feeling vulnerable? Let us know @BritandCo.

(Images via Picador + Barbora Simkova)