Sour Heart

Sour Heart

by Jenny Zhang


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Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

A sly debut story collection that conjures the experience of adolescence through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York City—for readers of Zadie Smith and Helen Oyeyemi.

Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize • Winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction • Finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • NPR • O: The Oprah MagazineThe GuardianEsquireNew York • BuzzFeed

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, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.

Praise for Sour Heart

“[Jenny Zhang’s] coming-of-age tales are coarse and funny, sweet and sour, told in language that’s rough-hewn yet pulsating with energy.”USA Today

“One of the knockout fiction debuts of the year.”—New York

“Compelling writing about what it means to be a teenager . . . It’s brilliant, it’s dark, but it’s also humorous and filled with love.”Isaac Fitzgerald, Today

“[A] combustible collection . . . in a class of its own.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Gorgeous and grotesque . . . [a] tremendous debut.”Slate

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399589386
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 407,941
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jenny Zhang is a poet and writer living in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

We Love You Crispina

Excerpted from "Sour Heart"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Jenny Zhang.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

We Love You Crispins 3

The Empty the Empty the Empty 41

Our Mothers Before Them 75

The Evolution of My Brother 145

My Days and Nights of Terror 179

Why Were They Throwing Bricks? 235

You Fell into the River and I Saved You! 260

Acknowledgments 303

Customer Reviews

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Sour Heart 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
teachlz More than 1 year ago
I appreciate Jenny Zhang, author of “Sour Heart” for her unique and unusual style of writing. “Sour Hearts is a novel with several short stories it. The genres for this book are Literary Fiction with a touch of personal History that the author has based this on and used her Poetic License for. I do admire Jenny Zhang for “shooting from the hip”. The author holds nothing back. For that reason I do want to issue a warning to people who might be sensitive to the use of bodily functions, and some scenes of violence, and some strong language, this might not be for you. For those readers that enjoy a different and unique experience, you probably might like this. I find it very difficult to review a book with different short stories in it. First of all, I enjoyed some stories more than others. Then, it would take forever to review each story. The stories take place in China, and the timeline goes back to “The Revolution” in China, where schools were closed and children would wildly roam the streets. The children could turn their parents in for any infraction. The stories are told as Chinese immigrants come to the United States and are faced with poverty and living in slum conditions. The stories are told of young Chinese women coming of age and the struggles they deal with. (emotional and sexual) Through the characters eyes, and their views of being discriminated, we see their discrimination to others Koreans and Black people. In one case, one young Chinese girl befriend a Black woman. The characters are complex, and complicated, and many come from a dysfunctional setting. The author write about families, grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, dysfunction, honor, love and struggle. This is a story of self-discovery and growth. I would recommend this story for those readers that like a unique and unusual approach. I received this book for my honest review.
MMFinck More than 1 year ago
So real, raw, and penetrating that Sour Heart was, in parts, as hard to read as it was impossible not to. Razor-sharp without mercy. Observant. Insightful. Highly recommend. MM Finck Women Writers, Women's Books