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Susie Yang Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

White Ivy (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Susie Yang is an American literary fiction best known for her debut novel “White Ivy.” She moved to the US as a five-year-old and lived all over the place from Delaware, Denver, Hockessin, and Baltimore before the family made a permanent home in the outer suburbs of New Jersey. Yang went to eight different schools before she attended college. She was born to Chinese parents that worked as book dealers while her father also doubled up as a Bristol Myers Squibb chemist. Since her parents were VIP library people, they spent a lot of time traveling up and down the East Coast collecting books from estate sales. As a college student, Yang would help out with the family business and it was this that gave her the sense for what nonfiction works were very popular. Even though she was introduced to literary works very early on, she never had creative friends with dreams of becoming writers, actors, or musicians. As such, she thought that she needed to find a reliable and safe job and this is what would happen as most of her friends proceeded to undertake professional careers upon graduation. Upon graduating from high school, she took a degree program in pharmacy at Rutgers. Three years after starting the program, she realized that she did not like being a pharmacist but completed the course graduating in 2012. Yang then moved to San Francisco and worked with a bunch of failed startups before she established the online education platform that teaches coding to newbies that was called BaseRails.

It was in 2016 that Susie Yang became interested in authorship. During this time, she was living in San Francisco and spending much of her time watching “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad” on Netflix. She was a thirty-two-year-old with a lot of time on her hands and she thought that writing a novel was something she should do. She had always wanted to become a fiction author but did not know where to start. Out of nowhere, she thought that the idea of a Chinese-American heroine would make for an excellent story. Yang searched all over the internet and did not find such an anti-heroine she had modeled reflected anywhere in popular culture. She had always loved the antihero protagonist, particularly one that has the drive to get something and the cunning to get it. She then combines this with an outsider that is trying to enter into a very different world from what they have been used to. Even though she had all these ideas she thought he could not do it unless she did it in secret or until she was retired. Everything changed when she read an essay by YCombinator founder Paul Graham who asserted that it is not a good idea to fantasize about something you are not doing.

During the time that Susie Yang was thinking about writing a novel. “What We Were Promised” Author Lucy Tan who happened to be her high school friend was admitted to the MFA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Yang remembers Tan telling her about her admission and she was like “What is an MFA program. She was so green but then was inspired once her friend explained it to her. She was also shocked and surprised to learn that one could follow a professional track on the way to becoming a professional fiction author. Her startup had a self-motivating curriculum and Yang took advantage of it and started treating her writing just like it was a business. She set a deadline of a year to be done writing the manuscript for her debut and the year was a tumultuous one. Susie spent much of it caring for her mother in law that had been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Only her husband knew that she was working on a novel as most of her friends and family thought she was still involved in the day to day running of the startup. However, once she was signed on with an agent it became impossible to keep her writing a secret. She was done writing the manuscript for “White Ivy” in 2017 and was surprised that there was so much interest that it ended up being a seven-way auction for the rights. The novel is currently in development to be made into a TV series.

In 2017 there was a bidding war for the screen rights for “White Ivy” and Susie Yang would meet with showrunners over a month asking about their different visions. Ultimately, Shonda Rhimes won the rights after paying $150 million for a limited series to be aired on Netflix. Yang has said that she would have loved to participate in the adaptation but would rather have a better end product. Having been involved in all manner of career detours over the years, she believes that it is time she focused on fiction writing for the time being. Yang intends to write her second novel on the theme of the dichotomy of the private self and the public personal via a romantic relationship that happens over more than a decade. She is fascinated by the different aspects of identity and how we as humans deal with them. In 2018, Susie Yang’s husband got a job at a UK nonprofit known as Simprints and this meant that they had to move to Cambridge, England. She currently lives with her husband in vacation rentals in Florence and Lisbon.

Susie Yang’s “White Ivy” introduces liar and thief Ivy Lin who does not look one inch a criminal. He had grown up outside Boston and her grandmother had taught her the best ways to steal from second-hand shops and yard sales. Pilfering is so profitable that Ivy soon has all the trappings of an urban teenager that she attracts the attention of the son of a wealthy political family named Gideon Speyer. But when her mother learns what she has been up to, she is furious and sends Ivy back to China instantly killing her dreams. Years later, Ivy is a restless but poised young woman dealing with the demons of her family and upbringing which are always in conflict. When she lands in Boston she meets Gideon’s sister named Sylvia Speyer and she starts to think that fate had determined that she reconnect with Gideon. Ivy slowly but surely sinks her claws into the entire Speyer clan, and especially her love interest Gideon, as she attends weekend getaways and fancy dinners to the cape. But just as she thinks everything she ever desired is about to be achieved, she has to deal with demons from her past. Full of sharp insights and surprising twists into the immigrant experience it is a beautiful coming of age story and a love triangle at the same time.

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