Duclos writes an affecting love story with her debut novel of expats escaping their complicated lives at home and looking for meaning elsewhere. Sasha and Liz both flee to Shanghai, and when they meet, they finally feel connected to something. Their love is sweet, and they're both drunk with it, but there is darkness around which they try to tiptoe. Exploring themes of home, loneliness, identity, relationships, and the ennui of the expat population in Shanghai, Duclos meticulously charts the arc of their coupledom. Beautifully done, Besotted shows us the ways in which love is sometimes the best thing we know, and sometimes the worst, but always worth examining. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Besotted is the ballad of Sasha and Liz, American expats in Shanghai. Both have moved abroad to escape — Sasha from her father’s disapproval, Liz from the predictability of her hometown.
When they move in together, Sasha falls in love, but the sudden attention from a charming architect threatens the relationship. Meanwhile, Liz struggles to be both a good girlfriend to Sasha and a good friend to Sam, her Shanghainese language partner who needs more from her than grammar lessons.
For fans of Prague by Arthur Phillips and The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee, Besotted is an expat novel that explores what it means to love someone while running away from yourself.
"Besotted is an absorbing, nuanced debut about belonging, desire, and the frustrations that surface in an atmosphere of isolation. Set mostly in tiny apartments, ridiculous happy hour bars, and Starbucks — all Western attempts to recreate home — Duclos’s expatriate Shanghai is wholly unique and beautifully composed. Alive with keenly observed, vibrant detail, Besotted is a love story that pulses with heat and light, glitter and grit." Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light
"In Besotted, Melissa Duclos debuts a beautiful, bruising love story that fully inhabits the world’s disquieting spaces in between. Her tender, vital community of Shanghai expats are — sometimes in the space of a single, lyric sentence — both impulsive and calculating, passionate and standoffish, at home and as far from home as they can possibly be. The result is an exuberant, sexy tango of a novel, at turns playful and wrenching, that unpacks the ways desire and reality are both closer together and farther apart than they ever initially seem." Tracy Manaster, author of The Done Thing
About the Author
Melissa Duclos received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, where she was awarded the Guston Fellowship. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, Salon, Bustle, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Electric Literature among other venues.
She lives with her two children in Portland, Oregon, where she works in communications for a non-profit organization.
She is the founder of Magnify: Small Presses, Bigger, a monthly newsletter celebrating small press books, and is at work on her second novel and a collection of humorous journals.