Chloe Gong sounds more like a character in a young adult novel than the author of one. A Shanghai-born, New Zealand-raised UPenn senior double-majoring English and international relations lands a book deal with one of the most reputable publishers of children’s books and publishes it to considerable (and deserved) critical acclaim.
The whimsicality and enchantment of this collection of Ossetian folk tales could best be captured in the seductive melodies of Rimsky-Korsakoff’s fairy tale operas and the evocative stagings of Leon Bakst or Ivan Bilibin. The Tales of the Narts go back deep into the well of time, to the age when the Scythians pastured their horses from the Danube to Gansu, and when the Chechens, Adyghe and Karbadians were forging iron swords in the crags of the Caucasus.
People from My Neighborhood is a book about relationships. Kawakami Hiromi’s collection of micro-fiction, itself only 120-pages long, is about the members of the close-knit community in an exurban Tokyo town. For a volume of short stories, the relationships between characters are remarkably strong. Two and three pages at a time, the reader begins to see the tangled network of ties that bind the people from the neighborhood together.
Caroline Kim’s debut short-story collection The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories grew out of an identity crisis she suffered some fifteen years ago. How would her life have differed had her parents not left South Korea for the US? Would she look different and like different things than her Korean-American self? And what does it even mean to “be Korean”?
When Australian Hugh Rand sailed to New Guinea in 1943 to serve as a coast watcher for the Allied Forces, he knew he would be killed. Rand’s job was to alert the Allies of Japanese activity on the island. He befriended local villagers, but never knew whom he could trust. And as predicted, he was beheaded by the Japanese not long after he arrived. In Death of Coast Watcher by Anthony English, Hugh Rand went on to terrorize generations after him.
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.