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Elaine Hsieh Chou’s "Disorientation": Micro Review, Pre-Order, and Upcoming Events
We’re so excited for Elaine Hsieh Chou’s debut novel, “Disorientation,” which comes out 3/22/22. In celebration of the new book, please read on for a micro review written by Carolyn Yoo (and book club founder), a link to Elaine’s interview with book club community member Nicole Zhu, and pre-order your copy of the book today (signed copies with stickers available).
We will also be having our first in-person event this year on April 15th, with Elaine, at Yu and Me Books. Mark your calendars today and be on the lookout for an Eventbrite signup link soon!
Micro Review and Illustration by Carolyn Yoo
Elaine Hsieh Chou’s debut novel Disorientation begins with Ingrid Yang, PhD student in her final year at Barnes, struggling to finish her dissertation on renowned Chinese American poet Xiao-Wen Chou. She cycles through a variety of illnesses to avoid meeting with her East Asian Studies advisor Michael Bartholomew, who initially encourages Ingrid to study Xiao-Wen Chou (“the canon”) to get on the tenure track.
Through a series of dizzying, hilarious events, Ingrid discovers a long buried secret that compromises not only her own future but the Barnes institution at large. With the help of her trusty friend Eunice Kim and equally admired and hated rival Vivian Vo, Ingrid inadvertently sets Barnes ablaze (literally!) with her discovery. By the end, nothing about Ingrid’s life remains the same—and she couldn’t be happier.
While the lack of self-reflection on Ingrid’s part prior to these events could be seen as unrealistic, Chou’s choice to have her protagonist undergo a complete reawakening serves the dramatic tension of the novel as a whole. Though a work of fiction, the book is thoroughly researched and many of its conversations feel like accurate recollections of Twitter threads and late-night alcohol-fueled arguments discussing Asian identity and white supremacy.
No one is left spared from critique in Chou’s satire, much to the reader’s delight. Anyone who has experienced the pretension of academia, thought extensively about racial dating preferences, or reveled in takedowns of white institutions will find much to cackle about while reading these pages. But Disorientation shines most in its ability to give Asian American readers an entry point to examine and forgive their own potential hypocrisies.
Carolyn Yoo is a Brooklyn-based illustrator, writer, and former Cosmos Book Club lead. Find her latest artwork on Instagram or subscribe to her weekly newsletter on furthering one's creative practice.
You can now pre-order ✨signed✨ copies of “Disorientation” at Yu and Me Books, the first NYC bookstore owned by an Asian American woman! Get a signed copy + 2 cute food stickers in honor of the book protagonist’s junk food addiction 🍩
As you wait for the book to arrive, you can:
Read up on Nicole’s conversation with Elaine where they talked about protesting, MRAsians, Korean vlogs & more. Head on over to Nicole’s newsletter for signed copy giveaway of the book
Join Elaine and Larissa Pham for a conversation at Greenlight Bookstore in-person and online on 3/24
All happy news aside, it’s been a heavy week. Anti-Asian crime is on the rise, and it’s been a whole year since the Atlanta shootings. Being in constant fear and anger is exhausting. So is trying to live your full life while trying to balance caring about everything going on in the world and not (for the sake of personal mental health).
As hollow as my simple words attempting to offer solace might feel, I’m sincerely sending everyone virtual hugs all across. If you have the mental capacity and energy, read about Min Jin Lee speaking out on Anti-Asian hate crimes.
The Cosmos, our sister organization, is offering a program called Group Hug: a 12-week community care program for Asian women, femmes, and non-binary folks who have felt lost, exhausted, angry, scared, or alone in our pain. The intention is to grieve, heal, and build collective resilience. Sign up here! Registration closes on Fri March 18 (today) at 11:59 pm ET.