The twelve stories in Xuan Juliana Wang’s funny and wise debut collection capture the unheard voices of a new generation of Chinese youth, a generation for whom the Cultural Revolution is a distant memory, WeChat is king and life glitters with the possibility of love, travel, technology, and, above all, new beginnings.
At the Beijing Olympics, a pair of synchronized divers stand poised at the edge of success and sexual self-discovery. A Chinese-American girl in Paris finds her life changed when she begins wearing a dead person’s clothes. And on a winter evening, a father creates an algorithm to troubleshoot the problem of raising a daughter across an ever-widening gulf of cultures and generations.
From second-generation rich kids and livestream stars to a glass-swallowing qigong grandmaster, these stories upend the well-worn path of the immigrant experience to reveal a new face of belonging: of young people testing the limits of who they are and who they will one day become, in a world as vast and various as their ambitions.
Xuan Juliana Wang was born in Heilongjiang, China, and moved to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and received her MFA from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She lives in California.
Read: Long Live Chinatown, Especially When I’m Gone, The Cut
Prompt: Write a single paragraph about the first home you ever lived in. Start wide – with over-arching description and then zoom in. You might settle in on a vivid memory, an object, a particular day in that home. Set your imagination free.