A Taiwanese American woman’s coming-of-consciousness ignites eye-opening revelations and chaos on a college campus in this outrageously hilarious and startlingly tender debut novel
Twenty-nine-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang is desperate to finish her dissertation on the late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou and never read about “Chinese-y” things again. But after years of grueling research, all she has to show for her efforts are junk food addiction and stomach pain. When she accidentally stumbles upon a strange and curious note in the Chou archives one afternoon, she convinces herself it’s her ticket out of academic hell.
But Ingrid’s in much deeper than she thinks. Her clumsy exploits to unravel the note’s message lead to an explosive discovery, upending not only her sheltered life within academia but her entire world beyond it. With her trusty friend Eunice Kim by her side and her rival Vivian Vo hot on her tail, together they set off a roller coaster of mishaps and misadventures, from book burings and OTC drug hallucinations, to hot-button protests and Yellow Peril 2.0 propaganda.
In the aftermath, nothing looks the same to Ingrid, including her gentle and doting fiancé, Stephen Greene. When he embarks on a book tour with the super kawaii Japanese author he’s translated, doubts and insecurities creep in for the first time... As the events Ingrid instigated keep spiraling, she’ll have to confront her sticky relationship to white men and white institutions—and, most of all, herself.
For readers of Paul Beatty's The Sellout and Charles Yu's Interior Chinatown, this uproarious and bighearted satire is a blistering send-up of privilege and power in America, and a profound reckoning of individual complicity and unspoken rage. In this electrifying debut novel from a provocative new voice, Chou asks who gets to tell our stories—and how the story changes when we finally tell it ourselves.
"hilarious and harrowing . . . a delightful asian american campus novel" - the new york review of books
“The funniest, most poignant novel of the year” —Vogue
“[F]unny and insightful, with plenty to say about art, identity, Orientalism and the politics of academia" - new york times book review
“A rollicking, whip-smart ride through the hallowed halls of academia” —Harpers Bazaar
"captivating, irresistible, and intensely readable, and what we ultimately come to literature to find" - chicago review of books
“[S]earing satire . . . Chou details her protagonist’s struggles with dry humor and wit” —Time
“This book has so many stifle-a-strangled-laugh lines you might want to refrain from reading it in a library or a train’s quiet car" - Glamour
“As the best comedy does, Disorientation manages to highlight uncomfortable truths, capture gray areas and hard lines, and resist sliding into easy binaries of heroes and villains” —Vanity Fair
“Disorientation is a deeply smart, satirical novel that takes a critical look at racism in academia” — Buzzfeed