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Jenny Xie Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Holding Pattern (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jenny Xie
Jenny Xie is a Chinese educator and poet. She is the author of “Eye Level”, which won the 2018 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018. “The Rupture Tense” was a finalist for the 2022 National Book Award. She won the Holmes National Poetry Prize, as a “poet of special merit”, which was selected by the Creative Writing faculty of Princeton University.

She received a Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Literature by the Vilcek Foundation in 2020.

She was born in Anhui, China, and was raised in New Jersey. She graduated from North Brunswick Township High School and Princeton University and earned a graduate degree from New York University. “Nowhere to Arrive”, her chapbook, won the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize after being published by Northwestern University Press.

Jenny has always written on the outskirts of her day, after work, in the evenings, or on the weekends. Weekend chunks have been very helpful for her. She will typically post up at a cafe, and have six hours to possibly write two sentences. It depends on the person, obviously. She is not the sort to dump a bunch of words down onto paper and then edit it all down at some later date. She needs a huge chunk of concentrated time. That usually does not work with any kind of traditional nine to five job.

She does a lot of writing at residencies. It is like she’s totally divorcing herself from her usual day to day, and she’ll just spend two weeks in a cabin where her meals are all taken care of, and she’s surrounded by these other artists.

This is her ideal way to work. She has worked as an editor for a blog. She can’t say if she’d feel more refreshed and ready to write creatively if she did something that was a bit less word-based, however when she does have the time to sit down with a manuscript or work on a short story, it feels very different. Even though she is dealing with words, it is a totally different thought process and zone that she is entering into.

The only thing that she hates more than writing is not writing. She believes it is because of the process. She has to really be (on a granular level) connected to the text. She has to like every single sentence, and she constantly goes back through a paragraph in order to think about her syntax, the images, the cadence, and the texture of her words.

Now that she has been doing this for a while, she has made her peace with this process. She realized that she could not write the way she does if she were not so obsessed with the minutiae of her craft. If it starts feeling foggy or muggy and she is not getting across what it is she wants to get across, then she just cannot move on from it.

Jenny began writing “Holding Pattern” in earnest in 2015 or 2016, during her last year of living in Baltimore. She could look back on the Bay at that point, particularly that time of the Bay. It is difficult sometimes to write about a space or time when you are just a little too close to it.

“Holding Pattern” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2023. Holding Pattern is a noun that means the awkward way that your mom attempts to hug you now that you live with her, again. And it’s a state of suspended progress.

Kathleen Cheng has just blown up her whole life. She has left everything behind, gone through this humiliating breakup, dropped out of her graduate program. She has now returned her childhood home in Oakland, and ponders what’s next.

To her surprise, her mom’s not the same person that Kathleen remembers. No longer desperate to go back to China and no longer depressed, the new Marissa Cheng is perky, sporty, and has been transformed by love. Kathleen believed she would be planning her own wedding, however she instead finds herself helping her mom plan hers, to this Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur.

Kathleen, grasping for some sort of direction, takes this job at a start-up which specializes in this unconventional form of therapy that’s based on touch. As she negotiates some new ideas about connection and intimacy, one unforeseen attachment to somebody at her work pushes her to totally rethink her relationships, particularly the one with Marissa. Are they going to succeed in seeing one another anew, one adult to another?

While they peel back the layers of their shared history, the cultural barriers, old wounds, and complex affection, they have to come to a totally new understanding of how they can possibly propel one another forward, and what they have done to hold one another back. Tender, warm, and brilliantly observed, this novel is a hopeful look at belonging and immigration, the many ways that we learn to hold each other, and mother-daughter relationships.

A National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree.

Readers found this to be a moving novel about a young woman’s search for intimacy, and every page is brimming with insight and intelligence. This is a sparkling jewel of a novel, one that lights up all of the most bizarre and alienating features of our own contemporary world with its brilliant language. Jenny writes about the darkness and alienation of our world with a hopeful pen, and her literary genius shines through on every single page and through the vivid portrayals of each one of her characters. Fans flew through the novel and mourned its concluding.

This is a hilarious and tender read, and Jenny offers the reader a refreshingly honest and complicated view of loneliness, heartbreak, and caregiving in a technocratic and consumerist world. Her sentences absolutely sparkle on the page, and she brings her expansive spirit to a healing narrative which weaves, wraps, and folds into you. There is so much heart within these pages, so much wisdom on how we love.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jenny Xie

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