BOOKS: Oriental Girls Desire Romance

Catherine Liu
Oriental Girls Desire Romance
Kaya Productions

Set in '80s-era New York City, this relentlessly imaginative novel follows an unnamed Chinese-American narrator as she engages life head-first and literally maps out the world around her. This woman--an outsider, a starving student, a temp worker, a stripper, and a daydreamer of near-narcotic proportions--has the power to sense life's machinations as well as the intentions of other people. Still, the author herself remains firmly grounded, examining an undiluted reality at eye-level, through unforgettable images.

An Ivy League grad, the heroine suffers the upper crust with a candor that is alternately crude and sophisticated, but always incisive. Seeking a simpler life, she returns to China after graduation to teach English, but is confronted with the unreasonable expectations and ideological tenacity of her autocratic immigrant father, as well as certain nagging questions about her own identity. Liu weaves the narrator's descriptions of China together with recollections of her childhood; then, returning the story to New York, the author follows the club crawls, drug parties, and multiple lovers that float in and out of her character's persistent vision. Remarkably, Liu juggles all of these scenes without the slightest sentimentality or linguistic grandstanding--reflecting how the real subject of this unique character study is the writer's own compelling personality.

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