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Three Books for the Month of October

Historical fiction, comedic memoir and riveting fiction this month.

The Green Phoenix

Seventeenth-century Dowager Xiaozhuang, also known as Bumbutai, was first a concubine and consort to Hong Taiji, the second emperor of the Qing dynasty, before eventually achieving empress status posthumously. This fictionalized account showcases many of her life events in narrative form. Poon adds color and life to historical instances, such as a love affair with Prince Dorgon, her husband’s younger half-brother. Their romance is not explicitly stated in historical records, largely deemed a myth, however the author makes this a key factor in her novel. Poon uses both Chinese and Western history books to weave together a fictionalized story of a famous female monarch. 

The Green Phoenix by Alice Poon is available at Garden Books for  RMB150. 


We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

Bitches Gotta Eat blogger Samantha Irby is back at it again, with her second memoir. In this new collection of essays, Irby is refreshingly open and self-deprecating. Irby’s response to her failed suicide attempt in 1993 was “Lol, toughen up!”  Her stories run the gamut from her faux Bachelorette application to her awkward first encounter with the male anatomy. She writes about being the late-in-life child of her long-in-the-tooth parents, making for an unconventional and somewhat lonely childhood. This self-proclaimed “Slothperson,” has a beautiful talent of conquering emotional moments with quick wit, humor and confidence. Even as she discusses her mental health issues or having Crohn’s disease. 

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby is available at Amazon.com for  RMB78. 


Sour Heart

Each story in Sour Heart is told through the perspective of daughters of Chinese immigrants who uprooted their professional lives back east, to struggle and have their shot at “The American Dream.”The first of eight stories finds the protagonist Christina reflecting on the hardships of the immigrant experience: modern day tenement living, waking up with roaches crawling on their bodies. Mande, the narrator in“my days and nights of terror” is a fourth grader who in addition to dealing with culture shock, is bullied by a lesbian Chinese student, Fanpin. Zhang succeeds  in bringing a provocative voice to the struggles of  immigrant life.

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang is available at Amazon.com for RMB85. 

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