“Ivy Lin was a thief but you would never know it to look at her”
White Ivy (Simon & Schuster: 2020), the debut novel by Susie Yang, is the story of Ivy Lin, a Chinese-American teenager growing up just outside of Boston, where she struggles to achieve the trappings of suburban teenagerhood. Years later, as a 27-year-old teacher haunted by confused feelings about her upbringing, she comes across characters from her past, which spurs a desire — perhaps an obsessive one — to remake her life.
“White Ivy” has won rave reviews in publications and book clubs across the United States over the past few months.
Before turning to writing, Susie Yang originally launched a tech start-up that taught 20,000 people how to code. She then studied creative writing at Tin House and Sackett Street. She was born in China, came to the United States as a child, and now resides in the UK. You can follow her on Twitter at @susieyyang.
In this interview, Susie and I discuss White Ivy’s character and setting in New england. We’ll delve into how Ivy’s Chinese heritage interacts with the story, and how it leads to important observations about wealth and gender. We’ll also discuss the idea of “immigrant fiction”: is it a label that helps or hurts up-and-coming writers?
Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He is also a print and broadcast commentator on local and regional politics. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.
Nicholas Gordon is a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. In his day job, he’s a researcher and writer for a think tank in economic and sustainable development. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.