Days of Distraction
"Startlingly original and deeply moving.... Chang here establishes herself as one of the most important of the new generation of American writers." -- George Saunders
A Most Anticipated Book of the Year from Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, and The Millions
A wry, tender portrait of a young woman--finally free to decide her own path, but unsure if she knows herself well enough to choose wisely--from a captivating new literary voice
The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why--she doesn't know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious tech publication, she reports on the achievements of smug Silicon Valley billionaires and start-up bros while her own request for a raise gets bumped from manager to manager. And when her longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to a quiet upstate New York town for grad school, she sees an excuse to cut and run.
Moving is supposed to be a grand gesture of her commitment to J and a way to reshape her sense of self. But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?
Equal parts tender and humorous, and told in spare but powerful prose, Days of Distraction is an offbeat coming-of-adulthood tale, a touching family story, and a razor-sharp appraisal of our times.
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About the AuthorAlexandra Chang is from Northern California. She graduated from UC Berkeley and received her MFA from Syracuse University. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, LARB Quarterly Journal, Catapult, and elsewhere. She has previously worked as a technology reporter for WIRED and Macworld, and now lives in upstate New York.
"A wholly engaging joy to read. Chang writes with wit and sharpness as she curates moments, observations and histories that together make something of beautiful depth and significance. It takes great bravery to make art of so many of those things we fear and love. An important, gratifying read."--Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black
"Chang portrays early adulthood with elegance and an offbeat humor that complements her poignant and deeply significant observations of life as a woman of color. She explores the struggle to be free in an oppressive society with incredible insight and clear, captivating prose that set her apart as a striking new voice in literature."--Booklist (starred review)
"Days of Distraction seized my attention like no other novel, distracting me entirely from my own life. The magic of this book is that its scale seems small, fixating on the minute details that make up our days: the anxieties, the obsessions, the observations made in the office, the neighborhood, the coffee shop. And yet inside Alexandra Chang's brilliant narrator is a grand, restless consciousness.... This is a book about America, and also an American love story, one that will leave you achingly awakened."--Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
"A coming-of-age tale for the 21st century... The narrator's meditations on themes like racism, capitalism, the role of technology in our lives, and complicated family relationships are simultaneously uniquely insightful and accessible to anyone who has grappled with these issues themselves. Beautifully crafted and deeply thoughtful."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Chang's humorous, timely observations on race, technology, and relationships lend immediacy to the narrator's chronicle of self-awareness. [Days of Distraction] introduces a formidably talented writer."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Days of Distraction is the kind of book so alive with intelligence, humor, and attention that it made me feel more awake to the world just to read it. Alexandra Chang's finely tuned observations are a miracle of precision and clarity as she illuminates how complex and entangled our notions of selfhood, family, love, history, and existence ultimately are, and how perilous and exhilarating the journey to navigate them can be."--Catherine Chung, author of The Tenth Muse
"How exhilarating to encounter a first novel this willing to take risks in both form and subject. Chang examines the fraught convergence of racism and intimate relationships with audacious, unsparing clarity, but also with tenderness. There are so many brave, beautiful passages in this book. I relished every page of it."--Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew