Sunday, June 6, 2010

Newly Releases in Paperback about Adoption from Mei-Ling Hopgood, and (go figure) Dan Chaon (with an Event Plug, Of Course)

I'm excited to say that Mei-Ling Hopgood's Lucky Girl arrived in paperback this week. I really enjoyed this book when it was published in hardcover, and it made our book spring-summer book club flyer for spring (we've gone back to press on it twice, to use old book publshing lingo).

We've already got a blog piece on this book, in conjunction with the book's hardcover publication and our Boswell event. Read it here.

Another book I wrote about in hardcover is Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply. Here's one of the pieces I wrote about the book, looking at it as a literary play on the horror genre. Could I really write a bit more about this book, which is part of our double-header event at the Sugar Maple this Thursday, June 10th, at 7 PM (no cover, at KK and Lincoln)?

Yes, I could. Because I was having a conversation with my friend Charlotte (here's her blog Follow the Reader) at Book Expo, and she said to me that she thinks that Dan Chaon is one of the few writers she's read that captures the identity displacement that comes along with adoption. It turns out that Lucinda Rosenfeldtalked about this in her New York Times Book Review piece last year, but I had glossed over that.

Now it turns out this is a problem when you come into an author's work later. It turns out Chaon has been talking about this as the source of his work for a long time.

Here's an excerpt from his 2004 interview in Poets and Writers. I like to the full review afterwards.

"Dan Chaon: I am adopted, so that issue has been part of my own mental landscape for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, I thought about it a lot. Why did I end up in this particular family? What is my birth family like? Are they more like me than my adopted family? I was a weird kid: bookish, imaginative, and not athletic. My dad was a construction worker and nobody in my family went to college. At 10, I wanted to read the New Yorker. So I wondered if some mistake had been made.

"I met my birth father eight years ago and, as it turns out, he, too, is a construction worker just like my adopted father. They're both electricians. The experience of meeting my birth father and learning some of the answers to my questions was definitely the impetus behind the novel, as well as having kids. Your kids' personalities emerge early on, and as a parent you don't do much to make it happen. Both those events fed into my desire to write a novel about this particular material."

So I turned to one of my fellow booksellers and asked if they realized that Chaon was writing about adoption. His answer: "Really? Now I have to read that book again."

Read the whole interview here.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Daniel - Thanks for this thoughtful post. I hadn't seen the interview with Dan Chaon in Poets & Writers. He definitely makes a good case for why adoptees make intriguing novelists:

Often novels try to explain the world to you. That's something I'm not interested in. I'm interested in taking things that people have neat packaged ideas about and unwrapping them and making them more complicated. For example people have pat ideas about nature and nurture. I was interested in taking those ideas apart and messing them up.

Now I will have to give LUCKY GIRL a try!