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Firewifeby Tinling Choong
Synopses & Reviews
The Chinese creation myth includes the battle between fire and water. As the battle continues, it shapes the lives and fates of every person. Some will know fire love, the wild passion that passes quickly. For others, there is water love, like the great rivers that defy place and time.
Tinling Choong draws on this powerful legend in FireWife to tell the fictional story of a fledgling photographer, Nin, who leaves her corporate job in California to photograph women throughout the world. Her journey turns into a search for the truth about women: the women of fire and the women of water. At each stopping place, she uncovers the tale of a woman who has been marginalized by her sexuality. In Taipei, she meets Zimi, who leases her forehead as advertising space and wants to donate her eggs to an infertile friend; in Bangkok, she photographs Ut, a fourteen-year-old girl forced into prostitution; in Tokyo, Nins subject bares her body so that sushi may be served upon her daily to groups of salivating men. Each of their lives echoes a stage in Nins own journey of discovering her raw sexual self, her true fire self.
Original, courageous, and intensely moving, FireWife is a poetic exploration of contemporary Asian women unknowingly connected over time. It introduces an astonishing new literary voice.
"Making her fiction debut while working on her Ph.D. in East Asian lit at Yale, Choong, a Malay-American, riffs on myths of fire and water as manifested in eight contemporary women's lives. An Indian woman Lakshmi (or 'fire'), marries a man for passionate love and ends up having a forced abortion (because she is carrying a girl) and being burned alive (after refusing her brother-in-law sex ). In an awkward framing device, her soul finds Nin, a 31-year-old Malay-Chinese-American photographer who, as a memorial to her little sister, Mien (who drowned at a tapioca factory at five), undertakes a six-month globe-spanning journey to complete the FireWife project, a 'personal photo essay' documenting the lives of such women as young prostitutes like Ut (innocence) and Table (stability), and the anorectic data-entry worker Maria (mother). There are eight women in all, each presented in incantatory first person, alternating with chapters from Nin. Nin's mission connects her to what seems distressingly like an eternal feminine conflict between desire, exploitation and self-debasement, one that recalls Nin's own struggle with survivor's guilt after Mien's death. The connection is tenuous, and the journey can be hallucinatory and downright mystifying, but it's also often forthright and sexy." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Born and raised in Malaysia, TINLING CHOONG received a B.A. from Wellesley College and is working toward her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University. FireWife is her publishing debut. She is at work on a novel.
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