In This Debut Novel, a Chinese Immigrant Keeps His Sleepwalking Sister’s Secrets

NIGHTS WHEN NOTHING HAPPENED By Simon Han How does a family find its footing after it leaves home for good? For the Chengs, who have im...


NIGHTS WHEN NOTHING HAPPENED
By Simon Han

How does a family find its footing after it leaves home for good? For the Chengs, who have immigrated from China, their new life in Plano, Texas, is rendered in a series of quick brush strokes, as if in a Raymond Carver story. Houses on either side of their street stand “like tombs.” A square patch of lawn is filled with “fresh, breathing sod.” Ordinary details of suburban America conjure the past. When Jack, the family’s elder son, smells the perfume of the other 11-year-olds in his class, the sweet scent reminds him of the candied fruits — glazed strawberries, pineapple, shanzha — he used to buy from street vendors in Tianjin, sliding the sticky flesh off the skewers with his teeth. Conversely, a neighbor’s swimming pool at night signals murder and intrigue to Jack — an impression perhaps made more from news stories and television shows than from any kind of lived experience.

It’s the mid-aughts and the Cheng family has chosen to live in Plano for the good schools, the low crime rate, the shopping malls and the lighted tennis courts. Never mind that the city was named the “suicide capital” of America in the ’80s and suffered from a heroin epidemic in the ’90s. Patty, Jack’s mother, works for a tech company near Dallas. Her husband, Liang, runs a portrait photography studio. They moved to the United States when Jack was little, leaving him behind in Tianjin with Patty’s parents, and finally sent for him when he was 5. Jack’s younger sister, Annabel, was born in Texas. Jack feels an instinctual need to protect Annabel, in part because of her sleepwalking; though she is too afraid to sleep by herself, by night her unconscious self ventures boldly out of the house, discarding her slippers on other people’s lawns. On these nights, Jack is the one who wakes up to search for her and return her to safety, never revealing this secret to his parents.

As with many families, happiness is not really a reliable state for the Chengs, even if they do have security, Christmas presents and food on the table. Seen from the shifting perspectives of mother, father, daughter and son — each fully, empathetically rendered — their life in Plano feels more makeshift, like a tedious kind of limbo. Patty waits for hours in Dallas traffic every day. They slowly upgrade from a smaller house to a slightly bigger one. Liang gets too drunk at his poker games with the other Chinese fathers in the neighborhood. Patty works late to avoid going home. There is little communication in the Cheng household — thoughts remain unspoken, and important questions are never asked. This novel reminds us what it’s like navigating a foreign country: Connections feel frayed, self-doubt proliferates, the immigrant is never sure what is normal and what isn’t. Jack’s own reassurances seem halfhearted: “You have to walk through a place as if you’ve known it all your life,” he tells himself.

Source link

COMMENTS

Name

Africa,702,Americas,3716,Art & Culture,13874,Arts,6242,Arts & Design,1479,Asia,3050,Automobile,399,Baseball,485,Basketball,378,Books,3642,Business,5063,Celebrity,2531,Cricket,534,Crime,95,Cryptocurrency,1280,Dance,568,Defense,743,Diplomatic Relations,2412,Economy,971,Editorial,260,Education,1077,Elections,287,Energy & Environment,2921,Entertainment,21639,Environment,3392,Europe,3967,Faith & Religion,182,Family & Life,718,Fashion & Style,3001,Finance,18336,Food & Drink,3500,Football,999,Games,57,Gossip,10164,Health & Fitness,3815,Health Care,772,Hockey,165,Home & Garden,820,Humour,849,Latin America,49,Lifestyle,15693,Media,436,Middle East,1366,Movies,1556,Music,2416,Opinion,2543,Other,10699,Other Sports,4796,Political News,11060,Political Protests,2205,Politics,16908,Real Estate,1642,Relationship,59,Retail,3014,Science,2378,Science & Tech,9237,Soccer,136,Space & Cosmos,253,Sports,10927,Technology,3214,Tennis,489,Theater,1511,Transportation,236,Travel,2409,TV,3443,US Sports,1355,Video News,3531,War & Conflict,946,Weird News,930,World,15020,
ltr
item
Newsrust: In This Debut Novel, a Chinese Immigrant Keeps His Sleepwalking Sister’s Secrets
In This Debut Novel, a Chinese Immigrant Keeps His Sleepwalking Sister’s Secrets
https://static01.nyt.com/images/2020/11/05/books/review/LaForce1/LaForce1-facebookJumbo.jpg
Newsrust
https://www.newsrust.com/2020/11/in-this-debut-novel-chinese-immigrant.html
https://www.newsrust.com/
https://www.newsrust.com/
https://www.newsrust.com/2020/11/in-this-debut-novel-chinese-immigrant.html
true
732247599994189300
UTF-8
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content