It's Raining Books Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing



On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
  1. $17.47 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    The High Divide

    Lin Enger 9781616203757

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$9.95
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Dissident: A Novel

by

The Dissident: A Novel Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Despite its neat plotting, this novel is unmistakably slow — no hyperventilating for Freudenberger, no messy clamoring for multiple literary references — and it does the unglamorous work of chipping the hard shells off its movingly drawn characters. The Dissident is not the kind of book that knocks a reader down, but it does have the power to linger." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the PEN/Malamud Award-winning author of Lucky Girls comes a bold, intricately woven first novel about an enigmatic stranger who disrupts the life of one American family.

Yuan Zhao, a celebrated Chinese performance artist and political dissident, has accepted a one year's artist's residency in Los Angeles. He is to be a Visiting Scholar at the St. Anselm's School for Girls, teaching advanced art, and hosted by one of the school's most devoted families: the wealthy if dysfunctional Traverses. But when their guest arrives, the Traverses are preoccupied with their own problems. Cece — devoted mother and contemporary art enthusiast — worries about the recent arrest of her son, Max. Unable to communicate with her husband, Gordon, a psychiatrist distracted by his passion for genealogical research, she turns to Gordon's wayward brother, Phil. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Olivia Travers is just relieved that her classmates seem to be ignoring the weird Chinese art teacher living in her pool house — at least until a brilliant but troublesome new student appears in his class.

The dissident, for his part, is delighted to be left alone. His relationship to the 1989 Democracy Movement and his past in a Beijing underground artists' community together give him reason for not wanting to be scrutinized too carefully. The trouble starts when he and his American hosts begin to see one another with clearer eyes.

A novel about secrets, love, and the shining chaos of everyday American life, The Dissident is a remarkable and surprising group portrait, done with a light, sure hand. Reviewing Lucky Girls, the Seattle Times praised Freudenberger's "merciless and often hilarious eye for family dynamics, and her equally sharp eye for cultures in collision." These talents and others are on full display here, as the author captures her characters in their struggles with art, with identity — and with one another. As the New York Times Book Review observed, "Young writers as ambitious — and as good — as Nell Freudenberger give us a reason for hope."

Review:

"Freudenberger fulfills the promise of her 2003 collection of short stories, Lucky Girls, in her expansive first novel. Yuan Zhao, a Chinese performance artist entangled in the subversive community of the Beijing East Village (an artist enclave located in Beijing's 'industrial dump'), moves to Los Angeles for an exhibition of his work and to teach studio art to gifted students at the St. Anselm's School for Girls. Upon arrival at the Traverses', his host family, Zhao finds himself in a domestic minefield: Cece Travers, the family matriarch, is having an affair with her brother-in-law, Phil. Meanwhile, her children fumble through adolescence, and her husband, psychiatrist Gordon, phones in his familial obligations. Freudenberger juxtaposes Zhao's early artist days in the East and his unrequited love for the woman he left behind with his solitary life in Los Angeles, where he grows obsessed with a Chinese art student. Under a blanket of cultural misunderstandings and xenophobia, Freudenberger tackles big questions about art: what makes an artist; how artists and writers borrow from each other; and how they appropriate details from the lives of their friends and families. Freudenberger sometimes missteps into humdrum Hollywood satire and uninspired relationship drama, but Zhao is distinctly fresh; it's when describing his journey that Freudenberger's novel takes flight. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The short-story writer Nell Freudenberger has written her first novel, and it's about a well-to-do Los Angeles family who takes in a Chinese political artist for a year-long residency. Although the novel is called 'The Dissident' and interlaces a first-person account by this artist with its third-person narration, the book comes fully alive only when the family appears in view.

Yuan Zhao,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"The book is significantly flawed, by awkwardly handled exposition and several uncomfortably close echoes of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Still, its vivid characters and page-turning plot make it a more than commendable first novel." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A] charming, breezy read....[Freudenberger's] characters, while inviting, rarely feel complicated enough to respond to her story's delicately layered conceit — or guard its not-so-jarring secret." The Village Voice

Review:

"The overall effect...can be somewhat dry, unhelped by the occasional stiff attempts at humor. Nonetheless, Ms. Freudenberger's examination of the effect of lies in art and life succeeds in revealing interesting truths about both." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"Though The Dissident is emphatically a first novel...such moments of crystalline clarity are themselves 'rare birds,' the stuff of second, third and fourth novels. This is cause for celebration, not schadenfreudenberger — but don't hold your breath." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"The Dissident offers readers a profusion of reflections and insights that will linger long after the book has been read. Unfortunately, there is also a clutter of derivative images that prove distracting and less than engaging..." San Francisco Chronicle

Synopsis:

A famous performance artist and political activist accepts an artist's residency in Los Angeles, where he is hosted by a wealthy Beverly Hills family. As he becomes increasingly tangled in their lives, the author opens the door on his past in Beijing, revealing an artistic subculture at the height of its influence.

About the Author

Nell Freudenberger's collection of stories, Lucky Girls, was a New York Times Notable Book and won the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2005 Freudenberger was the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award. She lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060758714
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Freudenberger, Nell
Author:
by Nell Freudenberger
Publisher:
Ecco
Subject:
General
Subject:
Chinese
Subject:
Artists
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
August 15, 2006
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9 x 6.125 x 1.37 in 24 oz

Other books you might like

  1. Book of Liz Used Trade Paper $6.00
  2. The Vote New Trade Paper $14.50
  3. We love Glenda so much and A change... Used Trade Paper $8.95
  4. Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out
    Sale Trade Paper $8.98
  5. Twilight of the Superheroes: Stories Used Hardcover $8.50
  6. Ghost Sea Used Trade Paper $9.50

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Dissident: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Ecco - English 9780060758714 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Freudenberger fulfills the promise of her 2003 collection of short stories, Lucky Girls, in her expansive first novel. Yuan Zhao, a Chinese performance artist entangled in the subversive community of the Beijing East Village (an artist enclave located in Beijing's 'industrial dump'), moves to Los Angeles for an exhibition of his work and to teach studio art to gifted students at the St. Anselm's School for Girls. Upon arrival at the Traverses', his host family, Zhao finds himself in a domestic minefield: Cece Travers, the family matriarch, is having an affair with her brother-in-law, Phil. Meanwhile, her children fumble through adolescence, and her husband, psychiatrist Gordon, phones in his familial obligations. Freudenberger juxtaposes Zhao's early artist days in the East and his unrequited love for the woman he left behind with his solitary life in Los Angeles, where he grows obsessed with a Chinese art student. Under a blanket of cultural misunderstandings and xenophobia, Freudenberger tackles big questions about art: what makes an artist; how artists and writers borrow from each other; and how they appropriate details from the lives of their friends and families. Freudenberger sometimes missteps into humdrum Hollywood satire and uninspired relationship drama, but Zhao is distinctly fresh; it's when describing his journey that Freudenberger's novel takes flight. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Despite its neat plotting, this novel is unmistakably slow — no hyperventilating for Freudenberger, no messy clamoring for multiple literary references — and it does the unglamorous work of chipping the hard shells off its movingly drawn characters. The Dissident is not the kind of book that knocks a reader down, but it does have the power to linger." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "The book is significantly flawed, by awkwardly handled exposition and several uncomfortably close echoes of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. Still, its vivid characters and page-turning plot make it a more than commendable first novel."
"Review" by , "[A] charming, breezy read....[Freudenberger's] characters, while inviting, rarely feel complicated enough to respond to her story's delicately layered conceit — or guard its not-so-jarring secret."
"Review" by , "The overall effect...can be somewhat dry, unhelped by the occasional stiff attempts at humor. Nonetheless, Ms. Freudenberger's examination of the effect of lies in art and life succeeds in revealing interesting truths about both."
"Review" by , "Though The Dissident is emphatically a first novel...such moments of crystalline clarity are themselves 'rare birds,' the stuff of second, third and fourth novels. This is cause for celebration, not schadenfreudenberger — but don't hold your breath."
"Review" by , "The Dissident offers readers a profusion of reflections and insights that will linger long after the book has been read. Unfortunately, there is also a clutter of derivative images that prove distracting and less than engaging..."
"Synopsis" by , A famous performance artist and political activist accepts an artist's residency in Los Angeles, where he is hosted by a wealthy Beverly Hills family. As he becomes increasingly tangled in their lives, the author opens the door on his past in Beijing, revealing an artistic subculture at the height of its influence.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.