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Jade Chang Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Wangs Vs. the World (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Jade Chang is an American author that has made a name for herself with her debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, an exposition of the stereotype surrounding the immigrant experience. After working on it for over eight years, the novel was released in October of 2016 to rave reviews and critical acclaim. Its unconventional, humorous, and no punches pulled approach to the perception of the Asian American immigrant provided a lot of food for thought. An avid reader Chang asserts that she has such a great love of books that she just does not have one favorite author, book, or even genre. Given her love for books, it is not surprising that has been heavily involved in a variety of literary pursuits, the most prominent of which was as a Goodreads editor. As a member of the Goodreads editorial team, she has edited a variety of works, including quote of the day, infographics, blog posts, author interviews, and newsletters.

Born in Ohio, Chang has lived in Los Angeles since she was nine. The setting of her novel in L.A. had a very profound impact on the novel as Jade Chang asserts that the city provides a perfect mix of frivolity and intellectualism that she portrays in the novel. It is also very relevant in that it represents the achievement or loss of many dreams. She first thought about writing the novel during the 2007 financial crisis, while she was working as an editor for Angeleno, a luxury lifestyle magazine. As a front row spectator to the crumbling world of the American wealthy and middle class, she immediately knew that she had to write about that. Of particular importance, she wanted to convey the message that anything can happen and everything can fall apart.

As a Chinese American, she needed to write a novel that went against the conventional immigrant novel. While the traditional novel is great, most of them are mostly concerned with the theme of suffering, pain, and trying to fit in. Most of the novels also focused a lot on the notion that being American means being white, hence making it difficult for the immigrant to quantify their Americaness. She wanted to bust all the myths about fitting in as she asserts that while the immigrant experience is of much interest to her, she has never struggled with being American. Even as the novel’s protagonist grew up in Taiwan just like her parents, it has nothing to do with her family’s experiences as immigrants. For Chang, it was important that she writes a novel about immigrants and people of color that did not see their lack of whiteness as making them less American. Her novel is about immigrants that see themselves as an essential component of the American story rather than outsiders.

With the debate on the American dream and immigration at a crescendo, the publication of Jade Chang’s novel comes at an opportune moment. That the novel tackles both issues may explain why the book has received such attention from readers and critics alike. Nonetheless, while the novel is thematically solid, we cannot take away the fact that its success is because it is well crafted, fresh, funny, and smart. It is clear that Chang has made a lot of effort to ensure that the book came out just perfect. However, it has been all worth it, as the years of outlining, note taking, and meet-ups with her editors and agents has finally produced one of the best novels of 2016.

The novel The Wangs vs. the World features Charles Wang, a self-made millionaire, proud patriarch, and influential cosmetics distributor in Bel-Air. His newfound wealth has seen him live the American dream in the lavish embrace of his millionaire lifestyle. That is until he wakes up to one of the biggest failures of the American dream because of his poor financial decisions and the financial crisis of 2007. He has now lost it all: the SUVs, flat screen TVs, speedboats, and manicured villa, all taken away by uncaring officials with a twisted smile and a clipboard. But at least he is left with his family: Andrew a semiprofessional virgin, college sophomore, and aspiring comedian, Saina his disgraced daughter living in exile in Catskills, and Grace the baby of the family who is particularly obsessed with death and an aspiring stylista. One of his beloved cars, a powder blue 1980 Mercedes has somehow avoided repossession and even better it has room for all the family should they need it. With his wife seething, he picks up his suitcase, gets his youngest daughter and his son, and heads off towards a new destiny in New York.

As the family winds its way through the luxurious California countryside, crumbling Louisiana mansions, and dingy Texas inns, Chang portrays a vivid tale reminiscent of the Dust Bowl immigrants, only this time it is populated by Chinese American had beens. Jade Chang eloquently packs on her wry observations of the bourgeoisie vanity, faded southern gentry mannerisms, and Asian immigrant culture. What makes the narrative so compelling is that Chang is a master at the creation of character sketches. All her characters are given a memorable and fun slant, though she is careful to ensure they are believable and human. Charles even contemplates going back to China and reclaiming his abandoned birthright, while his daughter Saina seeks a second chance at her acting career. Chang decides not to answer any of the questions that the protagonist and his family are faced with. However, she has successfully revolutionized the concept of the quintessential American story.

Nonetheless, despite the hustle and bustle of the narrative, Chang eloquently presents the real pain that the 2008 financial crisis causes. He makes a very profound statement that amidst the cars turned into homes, empty boardrooms, cold bedrooms, shattered business, and foreclosed house all Americans had the feeling of being helpless to save themselves from catastrophe. Chang asserts that Charles failure while part of the great collective and individual failure and success. The debut novel demonstrates Jade Chang as one of the novelists to watch in coming years.

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