A Long Stay in a Distant Land: A Novel

A Long Stay in a Distant Land by Chieh Chieng (2005)
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It opens with Louis, the protagonist, adrift and barely thriving in his post-college job as a magazine fact checker. He is forced to move in with his gansta-rap loving dad, Sonny, to keep Sonny from trying to kill the man who accidentally killed his wife in a car accident. When Chieng fills in the backstory of Sonny's boyhood, Sonny's marriage to Louis's mom Mirla, uncle Bo's relationship with Grandma Esther, and the relationship between Granpa Melvin and Esther, the story truly comes alive. The family is unintentionally hilarious on all levels, from Louis's attempts to speak Cantonese with the correct inflection, to Sonny's love of rap, to Grandma Esther's famously dreadful turnip cakes.

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This book comes highly recommended along with the other Breakout Books of Louis Lum is a recent college graduate working as an underpaid fact-checker at a hot rod magazine, not the kind of position his mother Mirla had hoped for him. Louis once reveled in rebelling against his mother; however, Mirla has recently died in a car accident, brought on when an overworked medical student, Hersey Collins, fell asleep behind the wheel, and Louis feels guilty at having disappointed her.

Louis's father Sonny calls Louis every night and threatens to murder Hersey to avenge Mirla's death.

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Because Louis does not know how serious his father is about his intentions, he moves in and stays up late with his father, listening to his father's rap records, keeping him from stabbing Hersey, and trying to figure him out. Meanwhile Louis's feisty grandmother Esther is worried about her youngest son Bo, who moved to Hong Kong years ago and who recently has severed all communication with her.

Eventually, Esther convinces Louis to travel to Hong Kong to track down Bo to see if he is really "alive and in good health" while Esther watches over Sonny to make sure he doesn't follow through on his threats. The narrative weaves multiple points-of-view throughout the generations to give a full portrait of this quirky family. The Lums are an eccentric, unintentionally hilarious lot, caught up more in their American life than in their Chinese ancestry.

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A Long Stay in a Distant Land: A Novel [Chieh Chieng] on bitnistvesrapu.cf *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A hilarious and inventive first novel tracing three. A Long Stay in a Distant Land: A Novel [Chieh Chieng] on bitnistvesrapu.cf *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Lums are cursed. Their early deaths come.

After all, Sonny is more adamant about blacks respecting their culture by listening to gangsta rap than he is about the truths and myths about his own. Louis speaks Cantonese so badly that, for his whole life, he has been unintentionally calling his father "Old Bean" instead of "Old Man. The story leaps backward and forward in time, from character to character, in a collage that coalesces around Louis, the youngest surviving member of a family prone to premature deaths.

Chieh Chieng brings all this together with a dry wit and an eye for the absurd. The understated humor never demeans his characters and instead makes them more lovable. The result is an entertaining, heartfelt book about one family's oddities and how those quirks come to define them.

Engaging, clever, but a bit disorganized From Amazon Chieh Chieng's "A Long Stay in a Distant Land" is written with a structure reminiscent of Faye Myenne Ng's "Bone", jumping between acts or scenes scattered over many years, but it doesn't have the same narrative flow, the sense of inevitability as Ng's teller decides what more needs to be said at each point, peeling away layers of incident and family history, circling in on the central event of her sister's suicide.

Though the chapters here are all related as part of the Lum family story, they are almost independent short stories, vignettes or even sidebars, without a similar central organizing question. Formally, the main character is young Louis Lum, and the book revolves around two problems in the "now", Louis's mother Mirla recently died in an accident caused by a sleepy driver, whom his father Sonny is threatening to kill, so Louis moves in with Sonny to prevent his doing something foolish.

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Also, Sonny's brother Uncle Bo moved to Hong Kong years ago and married there, but after his wife died Bo, never a great communicator, dropped totally out of touch, refusing contact; halfway through the book, Louis volunteers to go to HK and look for Bo. Scattered in among these threads, and at times overwhelming them, we are given snapshots of family history going back to the courting and marriage of Louis's's grandparents, Melvin Lum long dead and Esther, now the family matriarch. Melvin's decision, much to the dismay of his family and new bride, to enlist in the army in WWII not only forms a chapter, but is part of the family gestalt.

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Louis is convinced that a personalized Death is stalking his family, unleashing a string of unexpected deaths listed on page 20 as revenge for the "steel rain of death" Melvin himself had unleashed during the war. Sonny is an ardent fan of gangsta rap, and a man of "unclear livelihood. The Son of Man unleashed a spin kick that landed square on the left side of Death's face Still, in all, it's an excellent freshman effort, and Chieng is an author worth watching. We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Make sure to accept our cookies in order to get the best experience out of this website.

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They peel back the curtain to explore the lives of those who work there as servers and the like as they live on the edges of its shiny unrealistic surface. There were no children and no one who seemed capable of a short sprint, or even a light jog around the block. Export option. Now he stood above one and its immensity was breathtaking. Once she'd said, Looks too much like his grandfather.

Description Details Customer Reviews 6 K- Simultaneous release, Blackstone exclusive Chieh Chieng's hilarious and inventive first novel traces three generations of a death-stalked Chinese-American family in Orange County, California A novel about the unexpected ways love and myth work to both sustain and threaten family ties, A Long Stay in a Distant Land introduces a wry and original new voice in American fiction.

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The Distant Land of My Father

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