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Editor’s Note

“Exile In LA...”

Poised at the intersection of art, exile, and family dynamics, this debut from one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists is an engrossing look at both the international art world and the dysfunction of LA society.
Mallory F.
Scribd Editor

From the PEN/Malamud Award-winning author of Lucky Girls comes an intricately woven novel about secrets, love, art, identity, and the shining chaos of every day American life.

Yuan Zhao, a celebrated Chinese performance artist and political dissident, has accepted a one-year artist's residency in Los Angeles. He is to be a Visiting Scholar at the St. Anselm's School for Girls, teaching advanced art, and hosted by one of the school's most devoted families: the wealthy if dysfunctional Traverses. The Traverses are too preoccupied with their own problems to pay their foreign guest too much attention, and the dissident is delighted to be left alone—his past links with radical movements give him good reason to avoid careful scrutiny. The trouble starts when he and his American hosts begin to view one another with clearer eyes.

Topics: United States of America and Family

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061850127
List price: $9.99
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An uneven novel from the female wunderkind of the New York literati. The scenes that take place in China are well imagined and delivered. The West Coast dysfunctional family is trite.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved Freudenberger's short story collection & eagerly picked up /The Dissident/ when I saw it in the library. The characters are as lively and fully-conceived as those in /Lucky Girls/--lively enough that in the end I felt like only one thread of the story had been tied up, and all the rest left hanging. But a good read, and an enjoyable fictionalization of the eighties art-scene in communist China.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The dissident in question is a controversial Chinese artist, who comes to California on an exchange programme, living with a local family and giving art classes at a girls' school during his stay. But the story is at least as much about the family he stays with, well-off but dysfunctional, and their extended circle. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, many of the same themes run through both halves of the story - art, creation and fakery, the closeness and simultaneous tension of family relationships, intergenerational misunderstandings, reality and image, and the role of chance in defining your life. At the same time, the story is not at all heavy - it's very readable, and funny. The use of language to differentiate the characters is another delight - the prissy, short-story writing older sister is very precise and hates cliche, the dissident speaks precise but slightly formal and long-winded sentences. This lifts the story and stops it being dominated by its symbology - for example, the father of the family could be a real stereotype, the psychology professor who has no idea how to interact with his wife or children, but he is drawn with accuracy, economy and wit. The only fault, for me, was the final chapter, which tried to tie up at least a couple of loose ends, but felt like a cop-out - a tacked-on happy ending which didn't follow on from what came before. But as that was only the last three pages, I only docked it half a point.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

An uneven novel from the female wunderkind of the New York literati. The scenes that take place in China are well imagined and delivered. The West Coast dysfunctional family is trite.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I loved Freudenberger's short story collection & eagerly picked up /The Dissident/ when I saw it in the library. The characters are as lively and fully-conceived as those in /Lucky Girls/--lively enough that in the end I felt like only one thread of the story had been tied up, and all the rest left hanging. But a good read, and an enjoyable fictionalization of the eighties art-scene in communist China.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The dissident in question is a controversial Chinese artist, who comes to California on an exchange programme, living with a local family and giving art classes at a girls' school during his stay. But the story is at least as much about the family he stays with, well-off but dysfunctional, and their extended circle. Despite the differences in their backgrounds, many of the same themes run through both halves of the story - art, creation and fakery, the closeness and simultaneous tension of family relationships, intergenerational misunderstandings, reality and image, and the role of chance in defining your life. At the same time, the story is not at all heavy - it's very readable, and funny. The use of language to differentiate the characters is another delight - the prissy, short-story writing older sister is very precise and hates cliche, the dissident speaks precise but slightly formal and long-winded sentences. This lifts the story and stops it being dominated by its symbology - for example, the father of the family could be a real stereotype, the psychology professor who has no idea how to interact with his wife or children, but he is drawn with accuracy, economy and wit. The only fault, for me, was the final chapter, which tried to tie up at least a couple of loose ends, but felt like a cop-out - a tacked-on happy ending which didn't follow on from what came before. But as that was only the last three pages, I only docked it half a point.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
An excellent story of a young, well raised man, who through his cousin, becomes involved in the illegal performing art world. HIs cousin encourgages and arranges him to stay in America for a year for a fellowship with a university. He teaches at a US high school and is shocked at , firstly, the attitudes of the students and secondly the sloppiness of the "advanced Art" Class. It is through this class that he meets June, a teenaged gifted artist. There are two other story lines, all well written and one is as important as the others.We get a well to do middle aged, housewife whose marriage is disintergrating and the other is our hero's historical background includeing about his cousin.All the stories mesh together nicely and there is no sense of chopping and changing.A smooth execution of all three stories make this book a joy to read
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A Chinese artist associated with the radical "East Village" movement comes to LA to exhibit and teach at a girls' private school, while staying with a Beverly Hills family. The book is over 400 pages, yet the characters and plotlines are not all fully developed.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A Chinese artist goes to the USA to teach art at a school for girls, and stays with an American family while he's there. There are two parallel stories going on - about the artist's past, and about that of the family. A lot of people have affairs with each other and most of the characters seem to be deliberately making their lives more difficult for themselves by constantly lying about everything and/or having an affair. I thought the half of the book set in China was a lot better written than the rest of it, but mostly I just didn't like any of the characters and wanted them to shut up. I guess if you like human drama stuff, it's a pretty good book - just not what I was in the mood for.
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