Reviews tagging 'Homophobia'

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

2 reviews

k_aro's review against another edition

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challenging emotional funny hopeful inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


On the level of how articulately and beautifully this book manages to encapsulate so many disparate Asian-American experiences, it really deserves the biggest props.

Unfortunately, as an Asian-Canadian... I wish I could say this (that is to say, any of the bigotry) was shocking to me. It's really rewarding to watch Ingrid grow both not only as someone who can articulate her own desires but also come to terms with the oppressions she faces now and perpetuated when she was younger (and at points in the book!). I do have to say, the first... third? Is truly frustrating as someone who had to grow up and grow through these feelings myself.

I mean, half the time I feel like I'm staring at a mirror of myself. There really is something about how immigrant narratives are so often circular in nature.

However, the other thing that Disorientation should get props for is how it manages to express that every single person has at least one little piece of the puzzle, even if they're pretty horrible in other ways. Take, for example, Alex, who really does understand the fetishization of Asian women - but is also an MRA/appropriates Black culture. He only understands it through this very myopic lens (at first), but he really does get it. And, for how it sympathizes with Ingrid for her desire to close her eyes and just go along with it, because it is easier than anything else.

I have some... weird feelings about how Vivian Vo and the POC Caucus are talked about - I don't think Chou is always wrong about it, mind, I just think certain framings are a bit weird given the overall story's conclusion.

SpoilerThat said, it refuses to excuses both the institutions and the people who perpetuate them. For John (the true identity of the elusive poet Ingrid agonizes over), Ingrid is possibly (or possibly not!) tricked into sympathizing with him, but when it is revealed he really is a fucking scumbag (and he is!), Ingrid has no qualms in her irritation and hatred with him.

I also appreciate the perpetuation of the system, even if it isn't the "happy ending" I may have wanted. There's an article that for the life of me I cannot find, but it talks about how Babel (by R. F. Kuang) and Portrait of a Thief (by Grace D. Li) try and deconstruct academia, but still have their main characters assume academia as the inherent natural high point they work to, with Kuang and Li alike hailing from T10 schools. Even beyond not attending a T10, Ingrid's decision to move out of academia is interesting.

That said, I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. Everyone seems to consolidate their opinions - not a bad thing! - but it does come very quickly.

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annoyedhumanoid's review

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reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


the courtroom tableau was brilliantly executed, definitely my favorite part
the plot summary was so fucking promising, but i found the writing to be lacking. i feel like it addressed its heavy topics through regurgitations of already finished conversations, rather than playing out those conversations in real time, if that makes sense. i know it's supposed to be absurdist, but the plot was just off the rails at times. Vivian's character development was very good though, shout out to that. also, the audiobook narration was very bland
cover review: ★★★★½. the illustration is gorgeous, just not a fan of either the typeface or the color of the title and author's name

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