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Susie Luo Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Paper Names (2023)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Susie Luo
Susie Luo is a writer based in New York. She graduated from Cornell Law School and the University of Pennsylvania.

Susie was born in China, before coming to America at the age of three, spending some time with her family in Flushing, New York, and primarily grew up in New Jersey.

After graduating from Penn, she went where every political science major is supposed to go: law school. She then moved to New York City, where she practiced as a mergers and acquisitions lawyer at Shearman & Sterling for three years before she moved on to work at Goldman Sachs for three years as an investment banker, writing “Paper Names” during her last year there.

Susie wrote nights while working there. This meant that she’d regularly turn to it around 10 or 11 PM. She’d also write it on weekends and would take vacation time just to have some more time to spend on the novel. She finished editing the book around the eight or nine month mark and got her wonderful agent after that.

She was close to finalizing the manuscript with her editor when this new story emerged. By that time, she had been improving her own storytelling and writing abilities, and she had a few months’ distance from her previous draft. Susie wound up scrapping about 20 out of the 28 chapters, and rewriting new ones from scratch. This was certainly a daunting and intense process, however she knew in her gut that this was the right way to go.

She went into this writing black hole for about four months and came out of the entire thing with pretty much what “Paper Names” is today. The characters are all the same, however she shifted them into a much more elevated storyline. She is so glad that her editor allowed her the extra time to finish the novel without any regrets.

Susie had always been a reader from the time that she was a little kid, but never really thought about being a writer. She’d always thought she was going to become a lawyer.

The first seed was planted into her brain in high school when she read Emily Giffin’s “Something Borrowed” and “Something Blue”. Susie looked at the author flap and saw that Emily used to be a lawyer. It was then she knew that lawyers can be writers too.

It was in the back of her mind even if it did not feel like an actual option for her. After she became a lawyer and realized that it just was not the right job for her, she tried banking since she thought it might be better because she’d be more involved in a deal, where lawyers just put the deals down on paper.

But she continued going back to writing. Even if she was tired, even after spending a long day at work, Susie would just write. And after writing, she feels energized. She is so charged up and nothing else makes her feel this way.

She began writing the novel in March of 2020. The first month of lockdown. It was a time that we were all isolated, on pause, and missing our friends and family. However what also struck her about this time was that she was missing the daily, small interactions which she had with her doormen, the security guard at her office, the barista that knew her coffee order. She’d seen these people even more regularly than some of her closest family and friends. She realized that these more in-between interactions make up the very fabric of our lives.

It was these sorts of relationships Susie wanted to explore further. In particular, one between the residents and a doorman of a very posh building. How do they interact? How would their lives intersect? What do they truly think about one another? This was the start of “Paper Names”.

Susie was very surprised while writing the novel with just how obsessed she had become with her characters. When she’d go out for runs, she would find herself not even listening to the music but thinking about their story arcs.

And while riding the subway, waiting in line at the grocery store, and even while she was talking to her mom, she’d find herself zoning out and would begin thinking about how she could change their scenes, what they’d say in certain situations, and how she could better depict who they are. The largest surprise of all came when she began dreaming about some of them.

“Paper Names” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2023. One unexpected act of violence brings together one Chinese-American family and one wealthy white lawyer in a sweeping and propulsive story about identity, family, and the American experience.

Set in China and New York over three decades, this novel explores what it really means to be American from three different points of view. There is Oliver, this handsome white lawyer with this dark family secret that lives in the building that Tony works in. There is Tony, who is a Chinese-born engineer turned Manhattan doorman that immigrated to America to give his family a better life. Finally, there is Tammy (his daughter) whom we meet when she is nine years old and follow through adulthood, and who grapples with the expectations of a first-generation American with her own personal desires.

One sudden attack causes their lives to intertwine in ways that will change them forever.

Panoramic, taut, and powerful, debut novelist Susie Luo’s “Paper Names” is quite an unforgettable story about the long shadows of our parents, the ripple effect of our choices and the ways that our love transcends difference.

Susie delivers an honest and sharp look at immigration, family, and everything that we trade away in order to find ourselves, however it’s also a literary page turner which is just as unsettling as it is filled with grace. Luo’s debut is nimble, unblinking, and written with the sort of clarity that one would expect from a seasoned author. With a strong sense of pacing, a keen eye for detail, and a deep understanding of human nature, she’s crafted a moving portrait of two families whose fates intertwine.

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