By Jenny Zhang
A series of humorous and gritty short stories about Chinese immigrants living in New York. The stories are all about people striving to find an identity outside of their nationality and their family.
Sour Heart is a collection of short stories about experiences of Chinese immigrants living in New York.
After reading this I was initially unsure how I felt about it. The basic thread of the story was intriguing and the beginning was promising but there were parts of the book that I felt were just there for no reason.
The stories in Sour Heart have the common theme running through them of immigrants trying to find their own identity separate from their families and their home countries.
One of the main struggles I had with Sour Heart was that there was no character I felt was particularly likeable or even overly memorable. This made it difficult to identify with any of them and difficult to care enough about the story to persevere, the only reason I read the whole book was because I hoped the promise shown in the initial story would be present throughout.
There was one story in particular that put me off this collection and that was the one where the children performing forced sexual acts on each other. It was uncomfortable reading which in itself wouldn’t put me off but it seemed like it was gratuitous.
The very first story in the collection, ‘We Love You Crispina’ was witty and interesting. Focusing on an immigrant family living in poverty it presented their life in miniature. It was everything a short story should be.
“Back when my parents and I lived in Bushwick in a building sandwiches between a drug house and another drug house, the only difference being that the dealers in the one drug house were also the users and so more unpredictable, and in the other the dealers were never the users and so more shrewd – back in those days, we lived in a one-bedroom apartment so subpar that we flattened cockroaches in our bedsheets.”
I suppose what I have to say about this book is that it wasn’t for me but I don’t think that means it won’t be a great book for other people. It just wasn’t to my taste.
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