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Sour Heart Paperback – 23 Aug 2017
|Paperback, 23 Aug 2017||
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Relegate anything else you're reading - there is no other book to be seen with now * The Times * Deliciously subverts conventions of "immigrant literature" -- Pankaj Mishra * Guardian Books of the Year * Obscene, beautiful, moving ... Jenny Zhang's astounding short story collection, Sour Heart, combines ingenious and tightly controlled technical artistry with an unfettered emotional directness that frequently moves, within single sentences, from overwhelming beauty to abject pain * New Yorker * The writing is vibrant, the smells of the city vivid. Zhang's is an exciting voice and a welcome one * Observer * In these gaping fissures and silences, Zhang gives life to a chorus of voices rich with reinvention, a narrative genealogy of what it is to be, to speak and to write across many forms of expression at once -- Emily LaBarge * Guardian * Swerves from off-kilter humour to quiet devastation * Sunday Telegraph * Zhang gives us huge windows into communities we don't often hear from or about - and that is part of what makes this book special ... An exceptional writer with the ability to build expensive universes that are heavy with struggle but never have space for self-pity -- Nikesh Shukla * Independent * Who isn't anticipating this book? Jenny Zhang is one of the most exciting and thoroughly original new voices in American fiction, and Sour Heart is worth every bit of hype ... Hilarious and devastating, tender, and mischievous. Zhang's beautiful, direct and sometimes scatological poetry (and her bang-on essays) had already won many of us over, but this book will catapult her to another league * LitHub * The narrators of these tales pull you close and hold you hostage with their singular takes on the world ... You'd be hard pressed to find a more intimate, raw and funny collection this summer * AnOther Magazine * As I read, I quickly realized this was something so new and powerful that it would come to shape the world, not just the literary world, but what we know about reality. Zhang's version of honesty goes way past the familiar, with passages that burst into a bold, startling brilliance. Get ready * Miranda July * Her writing is resolute in its ability to unsettle and even uproot - lighting your every nerve on fire, leaving your every synapse flashing * Nylon * Sour Heart blasts open the so-called `immigrant narrative' by showing us the claustrophobic, cracked lives and demented love of families and by giving us the deepest x-ray of American childhood I can recall. Dirty, hilarious, and utterly original * Karan Mahajan, author of The Association of Small Bombs * I will never forget the first time I read Jenny Zhang ... I was stunned, moved and - quite frankly - a little jealous * Lena Dunham *
About the Author
Jenny Zhang was born in Shanghai and raised in New York. She is the author of a poetry collection, Dear Jenny, We Are All Find and a collection of poems and essays, The Selected Jenny Zhang. She was nominated for a National Magazine Award for her essay in Poetry magazine and her writing has also appeared in the New York Times magazine, New York magazine, Rookie, Lenny and BuzzFeed. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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However, these short stories lean more toward character studies than narrative arcs. The stories are generally low in action and high in detail, which is an interesting particular way of writing. However, by the end of the book, it felt very repetitive. This book could have easily been four or five stories rather than seven without really losing any of the interesting qualities of the book. Generally, I prefer collections of character-focused short stories to be shorter, simply because they are so evenly-paced that it starts to feel repetitive, as though you aren't getting anything new from continuing to read.
I was hoping that these stories would be more narrative-based rather than character-focused, but if you love character-focused stories, then you will love this book! It is simply not my preference but I would highly recommend this book if that sounds appealing to you.
I will say that for a debut collection, this book is remarkable. I will happily follow Zhang's career in the future to see how she grows as a writer. Unfortunately, I do not think that this collection is as phenomenal as I would have liked it to be.
Over all, I gave this collection a 3 out of 5 stars, but I could see it easily being a 4 or 5 out of 5 stars for someone who loves character-driven stories.