The so-called “Great American Novel” has more than once told the story of an outsider trying to break into an East Coast elite circle, attracted to the private clubs and vacation homes that only money can buy. Most have been written by men—think F Scott Fitzgerald, Bret Easton Ellis and Whit Stillman—but Donna Tartt also weighed in on outsiders and East Coast elitism in The Secret History. Now Susie Yang aims to insert the immigrant experience into this tradition with her debut novel, White Ivy.
Asa’s husband has just been transferred, so the couple moves into his parents’ rental house, next door to her in-laws. When they move, Asa must quit her job, but “it’s not really the kind of job that’s worth holding on to” anyway.
David Tung lives in an affluent New Jersey town and attends a Saturday Chinese school in New York’s Chinatown. More immediately, he can’t have a girlfriend, say his parents, until he gets into an Ivy League college.
A novel based on anthropologist and author Nigel Barley’s writing career might well be called The Man Who Collected Colorful European Characters from the History of Southeast Asia.
If you don’t like creepy crawlies, have no fear: Miss Benson’s Beetle is a comic quest to find oneself rather than the eponymous insect.
With the exception of Singapore and Malaysia, where English is relatively widely used, and with the further exception of so-called “expat fiction” featuring foreign protagonists, Southeast Asia seemingly generates fewer novels in English—whether in translation or written directly in the language—than other regions of South and East Asia. This situation has ameliorated somewhat in recent years, a period that has coincided with the rise of a regional Southeast Asian culture and media market. Southeast Asian publishers are increasing sourcing and marketing books regionally.
Danilo Cruz, the protagonist of Danton Remoto’s Riverrun, is a young Filipino man raised near an American army base. From the get-go, something about Danilo is different, and everyone in his village can make it out. Even as a young boy, going to watch television at a friend’s house, the mother responds by slamming the door in his face. His reaction is violent.