A nuanced generational story in the style of Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko”, a soulful exploration of separation and immigration in the vein of Lisa Ko’s “The Leavers”, and an intimate and personal novel set against the movement of history in the tradition of Ha Jin’s “Waiting” or Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness Of Being”
THE IMPORTANCE OF FLOATING
by Linda Rui Feng
Simon & Schuster, TBA
In a rural Chinese village in the summer of 1986, ten-and-a-half-year-old Junie receives a momentous letter from her father: her parents, Momo and Cassia, intend on returning to China from America for her twelfth birthday after years of separation. Much to her alarm, Junie also gathers that they may plan on taking her back to their adopted country with them, removing her from an idyllic life with her beloved grandparents. What Junie doesn’t know is that her parents are estranged from each other in America; each holding close tragedies and histories that have created an unbridgeable silence between the two. Over the tumultuous years of their youth during China’s Cultural Revolution, both Momo and Cassia loved—and lost—in a way that they’ve never revealed to each other before, and the alienation of those private wounds feels insurmountable in a new country. But in order for Momo to fulfill the promise he made to Junie and himself, he must make one last desperate attempt to reunite all three members of the family before her birthday, even if it means bringing painful family secrets to light. Rotating between the perspectives of Junie, Momo, Cassia, and Dawn (a friend and nearly a lover from Momo’s past), THE IMPORTANCE OF FLOATING unfurls very personal stories of heartbreak against the upheavals of the period, explores the erosion of hope and its quiet resurgence, and tenderly reveals the compromises and improvisations that make up the lives of immigrants.
Linda Rui Feng is a professor of Chinese Cultural History at the University of Toronto and a first generation Chinese immigrant. Her writing has been supported by the MacDowell Colony and Toronto Arts Council, and her prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming from Kenyon Review Online, Santa Monica Review, Saint Ann’s Review, Salamander, and Washington Square Review.