In this masterful novel of inheritance and loss, Sonya Chung (Long for This World) proves herself a worthy heir to Marguerite Duras, Hwang Sun-won, and James Salter. Spanning generations and divergent cultures, The Loved Ones maps the intimate politics of unlikely attractions, illicit love, and costly reconciliations. Charles Lee, the young African American patriarch of a biracial family, seeks to remedy his fatherless childhood in Washington, DC, by making an honorable choice when his chance arrives. Years later in the mid-1980s, uneasy and stymied in his marriage to Alice, he finds a connection with Hannah Lee, the teenage Korean American caregiver whose parents’ transgressive flight from tradition and war has left them shrouded in a cloud of secrets and muted passion. A shocking and senseless death will test every familial bond and force all who are touched by the tragedy to reexamine who their loved ones truly are–the very meaning of the words. Haunting, elliptical, and powerful, The Loved Ones deconstructs the world we think we know and shows us the one we inhabit.
“I would never witness anything interesting. I would never write anything beyond memos and flap copy and travel itineraries. I would simply love my wife and my daughters and hold them close and continue to take in meaningless midweek doubleheaders and mismanage the selling strategies of our midlist titles and ride along whatever middling currents I could manage until I washed up on some predictable shore.”
It’s the late Nineties on the Upper West Side and book publicist David Felb (née Felber, née Felberstein) can sense his world shrinking. He is stuck in the slow lane at “a venerable second-tier publishing house” and feeling the encroaching changes technology will bring as he struggles to maintain a bond with his wife and three young daughters. Into the void steps Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap, a tweed-clad, waxed-mustached nineteenth-century baseball legend with still impeccable timing who died penniless and obscure and seems to need something from Felb. Or is it the other way around? Felb dutifully goes to weekly psychiatrist appointments at his wife’s insistence, but when his hard-to-reach baseball-mad teenage daughter develops her own fascination, he can feel a chance to recapture something lost.
Daniel Paisner’s enchanting new novel about neurosis, intimacy, and balancing familial needs while juggling two careers and the demands of modern life is also a charming and memorable parable about losing your mind and finding yourself in the age of anxiety.