Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Last year, I received a manuscript in the mail from a young writer, hoping to find an agent and publisher. I read about a page and thought: "This is going to sell." And it did. The book was subversive, and savagely funny. It skewered the perceptions that we have of Asian women--and the way they view themselves. It attacked everything from the Asian graduation-to-marriage-peer-pressure-conveyor-belt-, the ubiquitous family Chinese restaurant immigrant experience, the pressure to get a great paying job . . . in short, it overturned most every stereotype of being an Asian girl in this country that I could think of. It was rude, but it was smart and I loved it. And I blurbed it. The book is "Hello Kitty Must Die" (see, no punches held) and the author, Angela Choi. Here is my blurb:
"Darkly humorous, but compulsively readable, Hello Kitty Must Die skewers the stereotypes of Asian girls as Hello Kitties through its protagonist, the enigmatic Fiona Yu. With a knowing wink to Fight Club and The Joy luck Club, Choi sends her characters careening through corrupt law firms and exclusive clubs, finally landing straight in the heart of San Francisco Chinatown, and leaving a trail of blood along the way. Like Pahlaniuk before her, Choi acutely spots what is absurd about life on the margin, and captures the disaffection of being young and smart in a country drowning in excess and saturated in media. A bold, and visceral debut."
I meant what I wrote then and I mean it now. And I'm so pleased that the critics have noticed too. Here, for example, is the Publishers Weekly review, which is starred. This is a big deal. Writers live to have a starred review. It means, "Hey. Look at this book! It's worth reading!"
"A demonic stir-fry of influences, including Amy Tan, Chuck Palahniuk, Clive Barker, and Candace Bushnell, infuses Choi’s prose with passionate ferocity."
I keep thinking to myself--who else can I talk to about this book? I met with Terry Hong, from Book Dragon last week, and thought: I need to take a book to Terry. Too late. She'd already read it and loved it. So, now I am putting up a general post, appealing to all of you, whoever you might be, to give Hello Kitty Must Die a chance. It will not be everyone's cup of tea. Choi is angry. There is a body count. But I do promise that the book is hysterically funny and perverse, and sometimes in life, you can learn something from things a bit outre. It is the perfect book for the irritated and not-repressed-but-perceived-to-be Asian in your life. Or, non Asian, if you wish. Doesn't everyone need to kill Hello Kitty every now and then?
And I should also say, before closing, that I knew Angela Choi once upon a time when I was an SAT tutor for Kaplan test prep. Angela was a young high school student--and just about as motivated a person as I have ever met. She worked her ass off and raised her score by 300 points. She went to Yale. She took charge of her life. She's generally a person to be reckoned with--and so is her book.