peteg's blog - noise - books - 2016 11 27 JadeChang TheWantsVsTheWorld

Jade Chang: The Wangs vs. the World.

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Kindle. Once again I feel suckered by publicists doing too good a job of pushing Ms Chang's first book. The first two-thirds are decent, sometimes great, but needed a substantial and brutal edit; the stand-up comedy parts are valueless, for instance, and I'm not at all sympathetic to any of the characters as they almost instantaneously transition from riches to rags. We're deep into brand-names-as-meaning here, which I find synonymous with vacuity. By the car crash the novel has degenerated to a travelogue with a side of food porn, and Ms Chang's sporadically bitey social commentary has transmuted into saccharine romantic cliches. It's clear she'd run out of ideas well before she got to the end of the journey, and it's a shame someone didn't tell her.

Kevin Nguyen at the New York Times identifies many weaknesses but somehow found more in it than there is.