Tag: china

Weike Wang, “The Trip” (2019)

(University of Pennsylvania)

One of those new stories enamored of the brusque, staccato style of clipped, declaratory sentences intended to project something less fluid, less linear, like the broken narrative of our sometimes less storied lives, in this case that of a young couple, a Chinese-born American who is nevertheless slurred as an ABC–American Born Chinese–by her relatives in China, and her husband, a man befuddled as much by his nagging mother as he is by his wife, who seems to unmoor herself from him and the United States little by little, as the couple travels through China on a tourism-and-family expedition with a few harrowing undertones. This opening sentence was intended to a) be anything but staccato and b) to approximate the length of the Great Wall,w here the story inevitably wanders at one brief point. The story does wander between its dualist strains: the women in this man’s life are not making it easy for him, and the image of that toilet lid lifting every time he walks by is positively frightening. The story is clearly autobiographical: Weike Wang was born in China, raised there for five years, then moved around (Australia, Canada, the United States, says Wikipedia). She was 11 when she landed in the United States. Her writing so far is the product of an MFA. There is a reference to reading a lot of Cheever in “The Trip.” In the end, the wife ends up staying in China and asking her husband to leave without her, to understand, to give her time. It’s something she must do. After all, she put up with her husband’s deplorably, unkowingly or maybe ignorantly bigoted attitudes toward her. There was this: “Later, his wife said that the entire meal was surreal. She found his mother interesting. Someone like her actually exists, she said, almost excited. And these places exist, and your stepdad watches ESPN, and they don’t want passports, they’ve never been on a plane, all those pickup trucks, amazing!” An echo of Obama’s guns and religion-clinging remark during his first campaign.

The New Yorker, November 11, 2019