Singed by New York’s melting pot, an immigrant family continues to fight movingly for a piece of the American Dream.
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Author, With or Without You
What I love most about reading is the way a book can immerse me into an unknown experience so completely different from my own that when I finish the story, I’m totally changed, now seeing and understanding the world in a new way. Case in point is Susie Luo’s dazzlingly written debut novel, Paper Names.
Tony, a Chinese immigrant engineer, comes to the United States for a better life for his family, but cannot find work as an engineer and so much to his chagrin enlists—as a serviceperson at a luxury building. Tammy, his first-generation American daughter, bears the burden of Tony’s fierce expectations for her as she works to excel academically and professionally. Meanwhile there’s Oliver, a white wealthy attorney who lives in the building where Tony works and who refuses to believe he is anything like his corrupt parents, even as he hides a dark secret of his own.
As these lives intersect, spanning decades and continents, Luo’s propulsive novel explores critical questions about contemporary America like: What’s the cost of trying to achieve the American Dream, especially while burdened with generational trauma? This debut is so assured, so moving and stunningly written, that readers might feel it was written by a seasoned literary master—a description surely in Luo’s future. You will not want to miss this one!
An unexpected act of violence brings together a Chinese-American family and a wealthy white lawyer in this propulsive and sweeping story of family, identity and the American experience—for fans of Jean Kwok, Mary Beth Keane and Naima Coster.
Set in New York and China over three decades, Paper Names explores what it means to be American from three different perspectives. There’s Tony, a Chinese-born engineer turned Manhattan doorman, who immigrated to the United States to give his family a better life. His daughter, Tammy, who we meet at age nine and follow through adulthood, grapples with the expectations of a first generation American and her own personal desires. Finally, there’s Oliver, a handsome white lawyer with a dark family secret and who lives in the building where Tony works. A violent attack causes their lives to intertwine in ways that will change them forever.
Taut, panoramic and powerful, debut novelist Susie Luo’s Paper Names is an unforgettable story about the long shadows of our parents, the ripple effect of our decisions and the ways in which our love transcends difference.