If you are having difficulty navigating this website please contact us at member.services@bookofthemonth.com or 1-877-236-8540.

Get your first book for $9.99 with code SMOOCH at checkout.

Join today!

We’ll make this quick.

First, enter your email. Then choose your move.

By tapping "Pick a book now" or "Pick a book later", you agree to Book of the Month’s Terms of use and Privacy policy.

Paper Names by Susie Luo
Literary fiction

Paper Names

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Susie Luo, on your first book!

by Susie Luo

Excellent choice

Just enter your email to add this book to your box.

By tapping "Add to box", you agree to Book of the Month’s Terms of use and Privacy policy.

Quick take

Singed by New York’s melting pot, an immigrant family continues to fight movingly for a piece of the American Dream.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Immigration

    Immigration

Synopsis

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.

Read less

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Paper Names.
Paper Names

ONE

Tony

1997

There were bruises on his daughter. Tony counted three. One from when she fell off her bike. Another from a game of tag on the playground. The last one was fresh. Barely noticeable, a dash of pink on her cheek. It could even be mistaken for blush.

Tony scooped Frosted Flakes by the handful, straight from box to mouth. It tasted like sugary cardboard. His daughter was seated at the table with a rigid posture. Her straight back, a silent fuck you.

“Your cereal is getting soggy,” he said.

Tammy didn’t move, eyes glued to the floor, ignoring both her father and the bowl of golden specks in front of her. At fifty inches and sixty-two pounds, she hit the exact numbers for an average nine-year-old girl, but Tony knew that she was anything but. She had a ferocious curiosity beyond her years. And a stubborn will that impressed him as much as it ignited his temper.

He said, in a singsong voice this time, “Do you want something else for breakfast?”

Again, the little girl didn’t reply, and as she tugged on her dress, two sizes too big, Tony’s entire body tensed. For a moment, he thought the mark on her cheek had darkened, but it was only a flicker of shadow. He whispered his adopted American phrase of relief: thank God. Not that he believed in God. He could only count on himself.

Create a free account!

Sign up to see book details, our quick takes, and more.

By tapping "Sign up", you agree to Book of the Month’s Terms of use and Privacy policy.

Why I love it

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!

Read less

Member ratings (4,026)

  • Katie M.

    Jersey City , NJ

    This is one that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I finished. I am an absolute sucker for alternating POV’s. I loved that the characters were not 100% good or 100% bad, which made them feel real

  • Jodie S.

    Rock Hill, SC

    A wonderful novel! The relationships were so interesting & ultimately the love shown between the father and daughter was wonderful. The writer really helps the reader see the challenges for immigrants

  • Laura K.

    McLean, VA

    So good! It hooked me from the first page, showed me so much about the immigrant experience without once lecturing, brought many threads together, and was well written. I did not love the end, though!

  • Jackie K.

    Atlanta, GA

    I really enjoyed this book. Overall it was really a good, thought-provoking book. Spoiler alert ---- I could have done without the kiss towards the end, I think that seemed kind of random to put in.

  • Amy C.

    Somerville, MA

    One of my favorites this year. The premise may be familiar (complicated family dynamics/expectations of immigrant parents) but the characters and the writing are so fresh and alive. Unputdownable.

Create a free account!

Sign up to see book details, our quick takes, and more.

By tapping "Sign up", you agree to Book of the Month’s Terms of use and Privacy policy.