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A fresh new voice emerges with the arrival of Sour Heart, establishing Jenny Zhang as a frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Her stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. In the absence of grown-ups, latchkey kids experiment on each other until one day the experiments turn violent; an overbearing mother abandons her artistic aspirations to come to America but relives her glory days through karaoke; and a shy loner struggles to master English so she can speak to God.
Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat - Dumpster diving for food and scamming Atlantic City casino buses to make a buck - these seven stories showcase Zhang's compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor reminiscent of Portnoy's Complaint. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family and to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Caro on 09-22-17
I want to read/listen to Sour Heart again
Sour Heart is exquisitely crafted, compelling, and deep. The inter-linking narratives represent, in microcosm, the painful and beautiful history that is lost in any diaspora as families and generations move on. Thru the eyes and memories of young girls, the telling is honest and shines a clear light into the mists of various interpretations. A few scenes are excruciating, but worth reading because they give up-close glimpses of things we don't usually see.
The narration in the audible.com version is impeccable. I felt I was literally listening to the characters themselves. I will listen again.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By OwlLover on 07-22-18
I didn't realize these were interconnected stories when I started reading. I appreciate the world expansion. It begins with a small world where multitudes can coexist in a small space, sharing a group of mattresses on a room floor, moves through people find their own places and expanding world view, and ends with scattered people looking back at their origins. The interwoven stories of these characters are interesting and contain the same range of emotions people -- especially migrant people -- experience as they move through and try to find their own space(s) in the world.