Lurid, funny, strange, and deftly sorrowing—an important new voice.


Composed of 16 short stories that explore the immigrant experience, this book traces a line from old worlds to new worlds by means of the bloody umbilical cords that stretch between them.

Chang returns to the thematic territory of her debut novel, Bestiary (2020), in these stories that unthread the tangled relationships between mothers and daughter, aunts and cousins, siblings and lovers in the broadly defined Taiwanese immigrant community now living in California. The stories progress through their antic, sometimes manic, often bloody, muddy, orgasmic, or chewed-up and spit-out paces. In “The Chorus of Dead Cousins,” an endlessly proliferating infestation of dead cousins threatens to drive away the speaker’s new wife with their poltergeist mischief, including farting in the minister’s face at the wedding and replacing all of the wife’s teeth with the red-dyed shells of melon seeds in the night. In “Nüwa,” named for the mother goddess of Chinese mythology who is often depicted as having a long, serpentine body, the train that passes the narrator and her sister Meimei’s house at night may also be a snake who is responsible for devouring all the girls that have gone missing in their neighborhood. In “Resident Aliens,” the speaker, her mother, and her seven aunts “share two bedrooms and rent out the basement—what had once been a slaughterhouse, with hooks that snagged on our shadows and no windows but our mouths,” to a series of 26 widows, each upping the fairy-tale ante on the one who came before. Separated into three sections—“Mothers,” “Myths,” and “Moths,”—the book signals its lingual play from the table of contents on. Indeed, the ease with which the various narrators shift into poetic transcendence in their workaday descriptions coupled with the linguistic flexibility of non-native idioms repurposed for a new English in a new world is as much a part of the storytelling as the stories themselves. All this together leaves the reader with a lingering sense that language, as well as life, is infinitely adaptable, no matter the ground on which it is given to grow.

Lurid, funny, strange, and deftly sorrowing—an important new voice.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-24158-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.


The adventures of a trio of genius kids united by their love of gaming and each other.

When Sam Masur recognizes Sadie Green in a crowded Boston subway station, midway through their college careers at Harvard and MIT, he shouts, “SADIE MIRANDA GREEN. YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY!” This is a reference to the hundreds of hours—609 to be exact—the two spent playing “Oregon Trail” and other games when they met in the children’s ward of a hospital where Sam was slowly and incompletely recovering from a traumatic injury and where Sadie was secretly racking up community service hours by spending time with him, a fact which caused the rift that has separated them until now. They determine that they both still game, and before long they’re spending the summer writing a soon-to-be-famous game together in the apartment that belongs to Sam's roommate, the gorgeous, wealthy acting student Marx Watanabe. Marx becomes the third corner of their triangle, and decades of action ensue, much of it set in Los Angeles, some in the virtual realm, all of it riveting. A lifelong gamer herself, Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming. For example, here’s the passage introducing the professor Sadie is sleeping with and his graphic engine, both of which play a continuing role in the story: “The seminar was led by twenty-eight-year-old Dov Mizrah....It was said of Dov that he was like the two Johns (Carmack, Romero), the American boy geniuses who'd programmed and designed Commander Keen and Doom, rolled into one. Dov was famous for his mane of dark, curly hair, wearing tight leather pants to gaming conventions, and yes, a game called Dead Sea, an underwater zombie adventure, originally for PC, for which he had invented a groundbreaking graphics engine, Ulysses, to render photorealistic light and shadow in water.” Readers who recognize the references will enjoy them, and those who don't can look them up and/or simply absorb them. Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise.

Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32120-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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