Two Menus


Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.1 X 0.6 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Rachel DeWoskin is the author of five critically acclaimed novels: Banshee; Someday We Will Fly; Blind; Big Girl Small; and Repeat After Me; and the memoir Foreign Babes in Beijing, about the years she spent in Beijing as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera. DeWoskin has Hollywood development deals for Foreign Babes in Beijing and Banshee, and her essays, poems, reviews, and translations have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine of London, Conde Nast Traveler, The Asian Wall Street Journal, The Far Eastern Economic Review, Agni, Ploughshares, The New Delta Review, The New Orleans Review, Seneca Review, and numerous journals and anthologies. She is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Arts at the University of Chicago and an affiliated faculty member in Jewish and East Asian Studies.


"DeWoskin's sophisticated, clever poetry, vacillating between soft and sonic, manages to break into the parts of the human story that so often seem inaccessible, or at least indescribable."-- "Newcity Lit"
"DeWoskin's range includes fresh new visions of Chinese language and culture, which lead to new ways of understanding an American life; fresh new ways of using rhyme, happily melding sonnets and hip-hop; fresh, uncowed understandings of the historic past, for example Cleopatra: this first book is fresh in more than one sense of the word and a great, illuminating pleasure."--Robert Pinsky, author of At the Foundling Hospital "Newcity Lit"
"DeWoskin takes us from grief to romance in Two Menus, a debut of stunning clarity and formal dexterity. The subtleties of this book are balanced by the world each poem means to hold. DeWoskin is a poet of things, of the image, and of the narratives that attention to image allows. This is a beautiful book."--Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition "Newcity Lit"
"'The restaurant in Beijing called Bitterness / and Happiness has two menus, ' recalls the insatiable speaker of this bountiful debut. Combining a novelist's narrative command with a poet's faith in the mystical felicities of rhyme, DeWoskin chronicles a life lived in voracious pursuit of all aspects of earthly experience. Whether rock climbing in China, river rafting in California, nursing her child, grieving another's child, visiting a family member in prison, or a dying friend in the hospital, she savors the living pith of each passing moment, and transmutes it into nourishing song. 'Here's how / we stay human even torched by sorrow, ' she writes, singing down mortal dread. 'Spackled, rageful, wracked, we sparkle.'"--Suzanne Buffam, author of A Pillow Book "Newcity Lit"
"Smart, fierce and formally brilliant, the poems in Two Menus are wonderfully energetic and alive. Spinning between love and loss, childhood and womanhood, Chinese and English, DeWoskin creates a blaze of language that stuns with precision, wisdom and joy."--Kirun Kapur, author of Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist "Newcity Lit"
"DeWoskin's spectacular debut Two Menus offers us a lyrical banquet of tempting contradiction. In the title poem, we learn of "[t]he restaurant in Beijing called Bitterness / and Happiness", which has "two menus: the first of excess, / second, scarcity." Through DeWoskin's own uncanny language, both larger-than-life and daringly precise, we read to rediscover the boundaries that both divide and join our worlds: us/them, love/disgust, safety/danger, sanity/madness, language/silence. How can one life be expected to take in all that there is before us? How can it all make sense? And yet, with lucid description, and with abiding love and wit, each poem in this audacious book asks for more--even when it hurts."--Frederick Speers, author of So Far Afield "Newcity Lit"