Elaine Hsieh Chou, "Disorientation: A Novel" (Penguin, 2022)


In Disorientation: A Novel by Elaine Hsieh Chou (Penguin Press, 2022), we meet Ingrid Yang: an eighth-year PhD student in East Asian studies struggling to write a dissertation on (fictional) canonical Chinese American poet Xiao-Wen Chou. Her situation is made all the more distressing by the fact that her student loan deferral is soon to expire, and it’s dawning on her that she was never interested in Xiao-Wen Chou in the first place—rather, her advisor convinced her that this would be a good topic for a marketable dissertation. Then one day, a strange note in the archives leads her to a shocking discovery. What is it? What happens? You’ll have to read Disorientation to find out.

Tune in to this episode of the New Books Network podcast to hear Elaine Hsieh Chou discuss the inspiration for Disorientation, how liberating it felt to have the last word on toxic white men, the difficulties of finding institutional space for Asian American studies, the continued importance of the legacy of the Third World Liberation Front, the joys and challenges of writing complex and flawed Asian American characters, Ingrid’s journey towards healing post-grad school, and more.

Elaine Hsieh Chou is a Taiwanese American writer from California. She holds an MFA from NYU where she was a Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellow, and she was once in—and dropped out of—a PhD program.

Jennifer Gayoung Lee is a writer and data analyst based in New York City.

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Jennifer Lee

Jennifer Gayoung Lee is a PhD student in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University.
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