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American Womanby Susan Choi
Synopses & Reviews
Susan Choi's first novel, The Foreign Student, was published to remarkable critical acclaim. The New Yorker called it "an auspicious debut," and the Los Angeles Times touted it as "a novel of extraordinary sensibility and transforming strangeness," naming it one of the ten best books of the year. American Woman, this gifted writer's second book, is a novel of even greater scope and dramatic complexity, about a young Japanese-American radical caught in the militant underground of the mid-1970s.
When 25-year-old Jenny Shimada steps out of the Rhinecliff train station in New York's Hudson Valley, the last person she expects to see is Rob Frazer, a shadowy figure from her previous life. On the lam for an act of violence against the American government, Jenny agrees to take on the job of caring for three younger fugitives whom Frazer has spirited out of California. One of them, the granddaughter of a wealthy newspaper magnate in San Francisco, has become a national celebrity. Kidnapped by a homegrown revolutionary group, Pauline shocked America when she embraced her captors' ideology, denouncing family and class to enlist in their radical cell.
American Woman unfolds the story of Jenny and her charges — Pauline, Juan, and Yvonne, the remains of the busted revolutionary cadre — as they pursue their destinies from an old farmhouse in upstate New York back to California. Provocative, suspenseful, and often wickedly comic, the novel explores the psychology of the young radicals — outsiders all — as isolation and paranoia inevitably undermine their ideals. American Woman is a tour de force with chilling resonance for readers today.
"[G]rainy psychological depth and texture....While the unfolding drama...is enthralling, it is Choi's skill at getting inside the heads of her protagonists that gives the novel its particular, unsettling appeal." Publishers Weekly
"[A]mbitious...intellectually provocative and vividly imagined but weighed down by its intentions. Despite some fine writing, [it] seems as much like a seminar...as it does a novel....Earnest but disappointing." Kirkus Reviews
"[M]esmerizing....[S]ustains its own unwavering, original voice....Choi crafts complex, believable characters....How it all comes together in an engrossing and emotive story is testament to Choi's deft narration. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"With uncompromising grace and mastery, Susan Choi renders the intimate moments which bring to life a tale of prodigious sweep." Jhumpa Lahiri
"Few writers since Graham Greene have brought such tender, insightful, poetic, intelligent, darkly comic writing to the political thriller." Francisco Goldman
"Enthralling, it is Choi's skill at getting inside the heads of her protagonists that gives the novel its particular, unsettling appeal [and]...grainy psychological depth and texture." Publishers Weekly
"A hypnotic, winding route through the scorched emotional landscape of 1974." Village Voice
"Enthralling." Publishers Weekly
"Brilliant...Choi's insightful understanding vivid description, lyrical use of language and deft dialogue make it an overall reading pleasure." Oregonian
"A brilliant read...astonishing in its honesty and confidence American Woman is a haunting book." Denver Post
"Riveting...Choi has the rare gift of bringing sycg notorious moments of history back to life and making them altogether new." Vogue
"Intellectually provocative and vividly imagined." Kirkus Reviews
"Prepare to be held hostage by Susan Choi's mesmerizing American Woman." Vanity Fair
"For most of the novel...Jenny has been an enigma....But as crisis and her growing involvement with Pauline push her farther into herself, the novel takes on psychological and thematic substance....Choi does not keep a moral scorecard--questions of right and wrong are, rightly, left to the reader." New York Times Book Review
Francine and Colville were childhood friends whose families belonged to an extreme religion, the Church Universal and Triumphant, whose members built elaborate underground shelters to protect themselves from a nuclear apocalypse that never came. Reunited twenty years later by the search for an abducted girl, Francine and Colville must reckon with the powerful memories of their former church's teachings, and the haunting feeling of leading adult lives in a world they once believed would be destroyed.
An American original, Peter Rock brings our strangest beliefs to vivid and sympathetic life in this haunting novel inspired by true events.
The Shelter Cycle tells the story of two children, Francine and Colville, who grew up in the Church Universal and Triumphant, a religion that predicted the world could end in the late 1980s. While their parents built underground shelters to withstand the impending Soviet missile strike, Francine and Colville played in the Montana wilderness, where invisible spirits watched over them. When the prophesized apocalypse did not occur, the sectand#8217;s members resurfaced and the children were forced to grow up in a world they believed might no longer exist.
Twenty years later, Francine and Colville are reunited while searching for an abducted girl. Haunted by memories and inculcated beliefs, they must confront the Churchand#8217;s teachings. If all the things they were raised to believe were misguided, why then do they suddenly feel so true?
An intimately charged novel of desire and disaster from the author of American Woman and A Person of Interest
Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemned on the walls of the women’s restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty—or his charismatic, volatile wife.
My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end—if they do—fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.
About the Author
Susan Choi was born in Indiana and grew up in Texas. Her first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award at Barnes & Noble. With David Remnick, she edited an anthology of fiction entitled Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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