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The Unpassing

The Unpassing

A searing debut novel that explores community, identity and the myth of the American dream through an immigrant family in Alaska

In Chia-Chia Lin’s debut novel, The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and repairman, while the mother, a loving, strong-willed, and unpredictably emotional matriarch, holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes up a week later to learn that his little sister Ruby was infected, too. She did not survive.

Routine takes over for the grieving family: the siblings care for each other as they befriend a neighboring family and explore the woods; distance grows between the parents as they deal with their loss separately. But things spiral when the father, increasingly guilt ridden after Ruby’s death, is sued for not properly installing a septic tank, which results in grave harm to a little boy. In the ensuing chaos, what really happened to Ruby finally emerges.

With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, The Unpassing explores the fallout after the loss of a child and the way in which a family is forced to grieve in a place that doesn’t yet feel like home.
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Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Modern & Contemporary Fiction (post C 1945)

On Sale: 1st October 2019

Price: £14.99

ISBN-13: 9780349013442

Reviews

I can't stop thinking about The Unpassing. Chia-Chia Lin captures the strangeness and beauty of childhood better than any writer in recent memory, and she is a brilliant observer of physical and emotional landscapes. Readers should be excited: this debut novel, a true work of art, displays the kind of clear and uniquely-angled vision that announces the beginning of a remarkable career
Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
Harrowing . . . In lyrical, intimate prose, Lin reveals the harsh realities of working class life in 1980s Alaska and the failed promises of the American dream
Wall Street Journal Magazine
[A] grim, breathtakingly beautiful debut novel . . . Lin excels when she gets small, with finely observed renderings of the family's surroundings . . . The way this chilling, captivating book concludes will delight as much as it challenges, offering as it does a blend of escape, tragedy, triumph, loss and what we've expected all along
Los Angeles Times
An arresting portrait of an immigrant family's pivotal moment of crisis . . . a nuanced portrayal of the American frontier . . . Lin's spare, lyric prose sets an elemental stage, a place indifferent to human suffering, cycling through life and death on a larger scale . . . The Unpassing is a powerful debut from an author to watch
San Francisco Chronicle
In this spare, deeply felt debut novel, Lin resists received wisdom about the American Dream to craft a family saga about the difficulty of grieving far from home
Esquire
Lin's attention to detail is startling, and though she keeps close to Gavin's childhood experience, she also allows us to read between the lines and intuit the depth of the family's grief, financial straits and fear of belittlement from their white neighbors and colleagues. Anyone who has ever grieved - be it the loss of a person, home, country or security - will feel a sense of recognition. The Unpassing is a remarkable, unflinching debut
Washington Post
A singularly vast and captivating novel, beautifully written in free-flowing prose that quietly disarms with its intermittent moments of poetic idiosyncrasy. But what makes Lin's novel such an important book is the extent to which it probes America's myth-making about itself, which can just as easily unmake as it can uplift
New York Times Book Review
Like the landscape it inhabits, this brilliant novel is composed of equal parts mystery, menace, and ravishment. It's difficult to think of another recent book in which emotion mounts so steadily and inexorably, nearly imperceptibly, until the last pages arrive with almost unbearable force. Chia-Chia Lin is among the best new writers I've read in years
Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
The Unpassing is a breathtaking novel, full of characters as strong and as wild as the Alaskan landscape they inhabit. Sentence after gorgeous sentence, I was pulled into their eery and beautiful world. Chia-Chia Lin is a remarkable writer
Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing
Stunning . . . With powerful and poetic prose, Lin captures the uncertainty and insight of childhood . . . Lin's majestic writing immerses the reader in the bodily experiences of her characters, who writhe, paw, dig, salivate, and draw readers into their world
Booklist (starred review)