There’s a delightful new novel gracing the cover of a recent Publishers Weekly featured as one of its Indie ‘sleeper hits’ for the Fall. Author Xu Xi has called this her ‘Woman’s Novel’. and with an international cast set in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai, (three of our favourite cities) Habit of a Foreign Sky’s themes resonate very well in this post-recession climate.
This novel for whom the author was a Finalist in the Inaugural Man Asian Literary Prize asks what happens when a high-powered woman executive relinquishes all her responsibilities?
The women in question is Gail, a mixed-race, single mother who loses her only child and her mother within the short span of just two years, and she’s about to find out. When she realizes that all she has left is a hard-won career at a global investment bank – now on the brink of fallout in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis – she chooses to veer off her life’s responsible, predictable path. Instead, she chooses free fall.
Nicholas Jose, Australian author and Man Asian Literary Prize judge called this work “An indispensable work of contemporary fiction by an important novelist at the height of her powers. A compelling, seductive reading experience.” and The New York Times hailed Xu Xi “a pioneer English-language writer from Asia.”
She has authored seven books of fiction and essays, and edited several literary anthologies including Fifty-Fifty: New Hong Kong Writing. Her many awards include an O. Henry prize story and the shortlist for the Man Asian Literary Prize. She currently teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts and is Writer-in-Residence at City University of Hong Kong, where she founded the first international MFA program that specializes in Asian writing in English.
Listen to the author speak about why this is her “Woman’s Novel”: Xu Xi reads from Chapter 2 of Habit of a Foreign Sky