Which Side Are You on

Product Details
$24.00  $22.32
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.1 X 0.9 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author
RYAN LEE WONG was born and raised in Los Angeles, lived for two years at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple, and currently lives in Brooklyn, where he is the administrative director of Brooklyn Zen Center. Previously, he served as program director for the Asian American Writers' Workshop and managing director of Kundiman. He has organized exhibitions and written extensively on the Asian American movements of the 1970s. He holds an MFA in fiction from Rutgers University-Newark. Which Side Are You On is his first book.
A Bustle Best Book of the Month
A Library Journal Most Anticipated Fall Debut
A Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year

Wong's main characters are wonderfully crafted and deeply human in their fallibility . . . Wong blends the backdrop of L.A. artfully and meaningfully into the novel . . . At its best, which it frequently is, Which Side Are You On bears the distinction of telling a story for and of our times, asking difficult, but necessary, questions of its narrator and readers alongside him. --Jung Yun, The Washington Post

A thought-provoking and poignant coming-of-age story. --TIME

A sharply observed story of an earnest Asian American activist considering dropping out of college to dedicate himself to organizing . . . the story, both moving and funny, is sure to speak powerfully to the many who struggle to find hope and joy in an unjust world. --Lisa Wong Macabasco, Vogue

A blistering send-up of youthful pretension and pseudo-activism . . . Wong's pace is quick and dialogue driven and actually in the service of a moving coming-of-age tale . . . An assured debut novel that gets at the heart of why saying the right thing--hell, even doing the right thing--isn't always enough. --J. Howard Rosier, Vulture

"This book! In Ryan Lee Wong's hard-hitting and witty novel, two generations of Asian American political activists negotiate their relationships with movements, history, L.A., and one another. Wong handles his narrator's earnestness with understated brilliance--especially when he skewers that very same sincerity. Sure to spark conversations." --YZ Chin, Entertainment Weekly

Told with the witty brio of our narrator's youth, Which Side Are You On marks the arrival of an electric new voice. --Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

Wong handles the characterization of Reed perfectly to make the novel fun to read. He puts Reed's social justice jargon-laden thoughts in dialogue, never in narration. Other characters challenge Reed's ideas and make fun of his vocabulary. This introduces playfulness to a story with heavy themes, and allows Reed to grow toward an authentic moment of transformation as he realizes there usually isn't just one right side to be on. --Jenny Shank, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

It's heartbreaking, but at times hilarious. The book knocks down stereotypes given to a community by the media and invites readers in with open arms. It's a book America has needed for a very long time. --Debutiful

What does it look like to devote your life to activism? How can you be a good, authentic ally to others? How can you lead a happy life when your life's work is so wrapped up in trauma and systemic oppression? These are some of the big and timely questions that carry us through Ryan Lee Wong's debut . . .You'll feel like you're right there in Los Angeles, a fly on the wall of these important conversations. But this is not a strictly somber novel by any means! It's a wonderful balancing act, tackling serious topics with humor and heart. --Katie Yee, A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year

With empathy plus sighing, cringing, and laughing, Wong provides quite the education for us all. --Booklist

Full of vibrant characters, this punchy story [...] offers no simple answers to ongoing racial conflicts. The portrait of a sanctimonious young man who wakes up to the reality of generational trauma and well-meaning failure is spot-on. Truly, a book for the contemporary moment. Ryan Lee Wong's dynamite debut novel weaves timely issues of racism and protest--and much nuance--into a pacy, funny story of generational differences and idealism versus cynicism. --Shelf Awareness

A profound and nuanced bildungsroman . . . This daring and generous work is sure to spark difficult but necessary conversations. --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The novel feels like an updated, more socially aware Less Than Zero . . . A promising coming-of-(political)-age debut. --Kirkus Reviews

Blasting easily woke platitudes, this honest, hilarious, and deeply healing novel gets at the heartbreaking core of building connections between families and friends, and solidarities within and between racial communities. For years I've been waiting for a novel like Ryan Lee Wong's Which Side Are You On, and I urge everyone to read it. It is an astonishing debut. --Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings

Sharp, fast-moving, and often hilarious, Which Side Are You On is a must-read: a story of Asian American relationships--familial, intergenerational, and otherwise--through the lens of Black-Asian histories, community organizing, and radical politics. --Lisa Ko, author of The Leavers

Salty, funny, angry, and heartbreaking, Which Side Are You On synthesizes the struggles of a family that has been working and hoping for a better world for two, maybe three, generations, and in the process, renews our sense of the histories involved--American history, Korean American history, Black history, Los Angeles history. This is a stunning debut, but also a novel I didn't know I was waiting for. --Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

With terrific, original use of language; a flawed, highly sympathetic protagonist; a fast pace; and a tone that is at once irreverent and sober, Which Side Are You On offers unusual insight into Asian-Black dynamics and the fight for racial justice in America. Ryan Lee Wong is an impactful new voice. --Bisi Adjapon, author of The Teller of Secrets

Which Side Are You On is a sharp and refreshing debut that tenderly plumbs the depths and angst of coming of age. In Reed, we find a narrator seeking meaning in radical politics, and finding more about his family and himself in the search than he knew was possible. --Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill

Ryan Lee Wong's debut is a poignant reminder of that internal journey we're all on: of wanting to belong and achieve, whether it's as an activist, a son or a daughter, or as a member of your chosen community. Reed's whirlwind journey through Los Angeles and K-Town towards that growth and understanding will also challenge readers to consider how much we can still learn, from the people and places we already think we know best." --Celeste Pewter