Brooklynite pens illuminating debut story collection

February 7, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Author Jenny Zhang. Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Brooklyn BookBeat

You might be familiar with Jenny Zhang’s work — she is a Brooklyn-based writer who has written for Rookie Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, New York magazine and Buzzfeed. Her short story collection “Sour Heart” is the first title in Lena Dunham’s and Jenni Konner’s new Lenny imprint. She is also the author of the poetry collection “Dear Jenny, We Are All Find.” She holds degrees from both Stanford and the Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop.

“Sour Heart,” Zhang’s debut story collection, is an illuminating and provocative collection of seven stories that reveal — through their poetic energy, depth of observation and intimate exploration of identity and family — what it means to come of age in a society that can’t quite comprehend your unique experience.

In her singular, dream-like voice, Zhang introduces us to a number of young female characters growing up in New York City in the ’90s. There is Christina, so entangled in the struggles of her own family (immigrants who sacrificed everything for her to be raised in the U.S. and continue to sacrifice everything for her happiness) that she cannot identify who she is without them. There is Stacey, who is forced to reckon with her grandmother’s role in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. And there is Annie, who is slowly learning and coming to terms with the power of her own body.

The book has been widely praised in its ability to illuminate the complexities and contradictions of first-generation life in America. Miranda July said of the book, “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.”

 

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