"Startlingly original and deeply moving.... Chang here establishes herself as one of the most important of the new generation of American writers." -- George Saunders
A Recommended Book From
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A wry, tender portrait of a young woman--finally free to decide her own path, but unsure if she knows herself well enough to choose wisely--from a captivating new literary voice
The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why--she doesn't know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious tech publication, she reports on the achievements of smug Silicon Valley billionaires and start-up bros while her own request for a raise gets bumped from manager to manager. And when her longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to a quiet upstate New York town for grad school, she sees an excuse to cut and run.
Moving is supposed to be a grand gesture of her commitment to J and a way to reshape her sense of self. But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?
Equal parts tender and humorous, and told in spare but powerful prose, Days of Distraction is an offbeat coming-of-adulthood tale, a touching family story, and a razor-sharp appraisal of our times.
"As one of the few women of color in her office, the narrator of Chang's stunning debut struggles to feel heard. A staff writer for a tech publication, she's often told she needs to stand out more to be noticed. Her requests for a raise remain on hold, though managers assure her that someone will take care of it. When a new executive comes in, her dissatisfaction grows as she realizes the overwhelming lack of diversity in the tech industry and the minimal efforts to correct it. Her boyfriend's decision to attend graduate school in Ithaca gives her the perfect excuse to leave and start fresh across the country. However, the move to small-town New York triggers an exploration of her identity as an Asian American, and what it means to be in an interracial relationship in a dominantly white society. Chang portrays early adulthood with elegance and an offbeat humor that complements her poignant and deeply significant observations of life as a woman of color. She explores the struggle to be free in an oppressive society with incredible insight and clear, captivating prose that set her apart as a striking new voice in literature.--Emily Park Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Chang's incisive debut follows a 25-year-old Chinese-American woman as she balances an interracial relationship, her career as a technology reporter, and a drive toward self-discovery. After narrator Jing Jing's white boyfriend, J, announces his plans to move across the country for graduate school, she follows him from San Francisco to Ithaca, N.Y. On the cross-country road trip with J, she discovers a heightened sense of her racial identity; while visiting high school friend Becca in Portland, Ore., Jing Jing quickly acknowledges her relative privilege as an East Asian compared to darker people of color after Becca, who is white, insists that "Asians have it really bad--the worst." Similar interactions in Ithaca make her feel out of place compared to her life in California, prompting her to remember and reexamine her close childhood friendship with white girls in the Milk Club ("the name did not have overtly racial origins, but practical ones, since each girl got a carton of milk at lunch") and consider how her ability to fit in among white people can erase her sense of self. As scattershot freelance assignments dry up, she occupies herself with research into discrimination of Chinese women throughout U.S. history, seeking a sense of purpose while J keeps a busy schedule. As J becomes condescending toward her efforts to improve their apartment, Jing Jing begins to feel estranged from him. When her father makes an uncharacteristic call from China and reveals that he's been drinking heavily, she decides to visit, relieved to have a reason to leave Ithaca. Chang's humorous, timely observations on race, technology, and relationships lend immediacy to the narrator's chronicle of self-awareness. This introduces a formidably talented writer. (Mar.)"
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