The Chinese Groove

A Novel

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9781640095663 | Hardcover 6 x 9 | 304 pages Buy it Now

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9781640095670 | Ebook | 304 pages Buy it Now

Book Description

Anne Tyler meets Jade Chang in this buoyant, good-hearted, and sharply written novel about a blithely optimistic immigrant with big dreams, dire prospects, and a fractured extended family in need of his help—even if they don’t know it yet

Eighteen-year-old Shelley, born into a much-despised branch of the Zheng family in Yunnan Province and living in the shadow of his widowed father’s grief, dreams of bigger things. Buoyed by an exuberant heart and his cousin Deng’s tall tales about the United States, Shelley heads to San Francisco to claim his destiny, confident that any hurdles will be easily overcome by the awesome powers of the “Chinese groove,” a belief in the unspoken bonds between countrymen that transcend time and borders.

Upon arrival, Shelley is dismayed to find that his “rich uncle” is in fact his unemployed second cousin once removed and that the grand guest room he’d envisioned is but a scratchy sofa. The indefinite stay he’d planned for? That has a firm two-week expiration date. Even worse, the loving family he hoped would embrace him is in shambles, shattered by a senseless tragedy that has cleaved the family in two. They want nothing to do with this youthful bounder who’s barged into their lives. Ever the optimist, Shelley concocts a plan to resuscitate his American dream by insinuating himself into the family. And, who knows, maybe he’ll even manage to bring them back together in the process.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

The New York Times, 1 of 10 New Books Coming in January
An Amazon Editors' Pick

"Ma’s uplifting tale of the good-hearted dreamer will appeal to those wanting to boost their spirits." —Becky Meloan, The Washington Post

"Ma’s novel is uplifting and moving as it follows Shelley on his American dream." —Alta

"Through witty satire and sweet storytelling, Kathryn Ma offers readers a fresh perspective on immigration, family, expectations and idealism." —Karla Strand, Ms.

"A literary novel with a subtly satirical and critical edge." —Oprah Daily, A Most Anticipated Title

"Balancing humor and poignancy with seemingly effortless ease, Ma is a magnificent storyteller . . . Shelley’s teenage naivete will entertain, while his tenacity and loyalty will surely inspire." —Booklist (starred review)

"This rollicking contemporary picaresque about a young Chinese man’s adventures in 2015 America offers a fresh take on the Chinese immigrant experience while confronting universal issues surrounding family, grief, and how to define success . . . Ma knows how to twist a plot in unexpected, deeply satisfying directions by writing with compassion, humor, and insight." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Ma returns with the vibrant story of a Chinese immigrant living in present-day San Francisco . . . Ma does a good job conveying the bonds of Shelley’s community and family. This immersive story is worth a look." —Publishers Weekly

"Kathryn Ma's The Chinese Groove is terrific in every way: smart, warm, witty, keenly observed, and best of all, refreshing, as she meditates on love, hope, and what it means to be a family." —Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar and We Are Each Other's Harvest

"By turns picaresque and poignant, Kathryn Ma's The Chinese Groove is an utterly original exploration of the Chinese diaspora, pondering the ancestral ties that span between China and San Francisco. Shelley is a poet and would-be striver with an indelible voice. A marvel." —Vanessa Hua, author of Forbidden City

"Tender in all of the ways that matter, The Chinese Groove peels back our American absurdities and illustrates that love, more than anything, is powerful enough to sustain us through darkness and disaster. Kathryn Ma’s latest work is brimming with characters whose undeniable complexity, authenticity, and hilarity will make you utter the age-old lie of 'just one more page.' And the twists! Don’t get me started. A wondrous novel where nothing, and no one, is as it seems." —Mateo Askaripour, author of Black Buck

"The Chinese Groove is a charmingly narrated immigrant tale turned upside down. Kathryn Ma has written a funny, largehearted, and uniquely American story about where dreams and reality collide. I feel the Chinese groove!" —Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin

"I fell head over heels for Shelley, the hero of Kathryn Ma’s beautiful and heartfelt novel The Chinese Groove. Anyone who has had a dream that popped, has foolishly relied on youthful expectations, or loved someone way too much will relate to this young person’s experience. This is a nuanced story of immigration, leading us through all of the frustrations and obstacles that stand in the way of open-hearted, deserving people who try to move to this country. But it’s more than that, in that it's funny as hell, and a wonderful coming of age narrative that made me cheer for Shelley the wayward poet the whole way through. I loved this book." —Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Embassy Wife

"Bighearted, funny, and tender, The Chinese Groove is the story of a relentlessly optimistic dreamer who crashes unbidden into the lives of his distant American relatives in San Francisco. Kathryn Ma had me rooting for her unlikely hero every step of the way." —Bonnie Tsui, author of Why We Swim and American Chinatown

"San Francisco's foggy Sunset District is the 'best of all possible worlds' in this warm, delightful tale of family, fortune seeking, and the generous reservoirs of community waiting to be summoned in this, the best of all possible novels. The Chinese Groove is lyrical, funny, and refreshingly thrilling, and it will take you to the best place of all: to home, seen anew. Thanks to Kathryn Ma, I have a new favorite book on my shelf." —Adam Johnson, author of Fortune Smiles

"I love what Kathryn Ma has done in The Chinese Groove. As the plot follows the scams and counter-scams of Zheng Xue Li’s life in America, its lovely satirical edge is without meanness and it has much to say about stereotype, deception, and family battles. It’s an astute novel, in which every character’s stubbornness unfolds a fabulous story. A joy to read." —Joan Silber, author of Secrets of Happiness

Praise for The Year She Left Us

"Haunting . . . The foundling may be a familiar figure in the history of the novel, most prominently in Dickens and the Brontës, but Ma gives us a striking 21st-century iteration . . . [T]he most vivid characters in the book are Gran and the troubled Ari. They're shimmering and unforgettable . . . One of the stunning accomplishments of this book is Ma’s tonal range." ––Mona Simpson, The New York Times Book Review
"Kathryn Ma's first novel is electrified by the enraged tenderness of its alienated young protagonist. Part mystery, part odyssey, The Year She Left Us heralds the arrival of a fierce, subtle new American voice." ––Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad