Imagine that you left your native China to achieve success in America, complete with booming business and Bel-Air mansion. Now suppose it's 2008 and you have just learned you lost it all. What would you do for your wife, your kids, yourself, or even your ancestors? Here are Charles Wang's current thoughts:
Charles Wang was mad at America.—The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, p. 3)
Actually, Charles Wang was mad at history.
If the death-bent Japanese had never invaded China, if a million—a billion—misguided students and serfs and never idolized a balding academic who parroted Russian madmen and couldn't pay for his promises, then Charles wouldn't be standing here, staring out the window of his beloved Bel-Air home, holding an aspirin in his hand, waiting for those calculating assholes from the bank—the bank that had once gotten down on its Italinate-marble knees and kissed his ass—to come over and repossess his life.
Without history, he wouldn't be here at all.
- Setting: modern times (about 2008), on the road from California to New York
- Circumstances: The Wangs are trying to cope with their fall from the 1 percent, each with his or her own identity crisis issues, although they're more or less facing the future as a family. Homeless and almost carless they leave LA to move into the elder daughter's rural New York farmhouse. A wacky road trip novel that explores some thoughtful themes.
- Genre: contemporary adult fiction; a debut novel
- Themes: family dynamics, the immigration experience, self-discovery, young and mature love, dashed dreams, cultural and racial identity
- Characters: Charles Wang, once a cosmetic business giant; Barbra, his second wife, also a Chinese American; Grace, his youngest child, a high school fashion blogger; Andrew, the middle child, an aspiring comedian / college student; Grace, the eldest child, a troubled artist; the people they meet on the road
- Everyone's talking: Chang's debut novel is getting all the buzz: It's one of Entertainment Weekly's most anticipated titles of 2016, a fall 2016 Barnes & Noble discover pick, a Publishers Lunch fall 2016 buzz book, the Millions most anticipated book, and one of Library Journal's five big debuts for fall 2016
- What I'm looking forward to: I love a good road trip book and I think The Wangs vs. the World, featuring a dysfunctional family whose members are simply trying to stay afloat in changing circumstances, will be fun to read just before the winter holiday season. This novel promises to be funny, smart, and thoughtful all at once.
- To learn more: Visit the novel's website or follow it on Instagram; follow Jade Chang on Instagram and Twitter; or follow Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.