The Loved Ones

Sonya Chung

This is a fearless novel, one that expands the heart. In mapping constellations of yearning and heartbreak as two families come together and fall apart, Sonya Chung not only delivers a sensual, finely wrought page-turner; she executes a radical act of compassion. The Loved Ones is a must-read.

Deanna Fei, author of Girl in Glass and A Thread of Sky

“We succeed only, ever, at sorrow and love.”

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.

Sonya Chung

Sonya Chung is the author of the novel Long for This World. She was born in Washington, DC, and graduated from Columbia University and the University of Washington. Currently she lives in New York City and teaches fiction writing at Skidmore College.

More praise for The Loved Ones

Sonya Chung’s prose is elegant, sparse, and heartbreaking in a way that reminds one of Elena Ferrante or Clarice Lispector. In this novel of two very different but interconnected families both named Lee, she tells the story of love against the twin inheritances of shame and grief. This book is a complication of the immigrant narrative in a way that is long overdue and necessary. A gorgeous and important second novel.

Nayomi Munaweera, author of What Lies Between Us

Within a multigenerational saga about family, race, and difference, The Loved Ones unfurls an elegant love story about two people bound to one another through tragedy yet kept apart by time and circumstance. The pages of this gorgeous novel gave me insight upon insight, characters I grew to love, and the most satisfying ending I’ve read in a very long time.

Shannon Cain, author of The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize

Sonya Chung’s new novel, The Loved Ones, spans generations and cultures to capture what it means to be a lost child in a lonely world. In compelling prose, Chung lays bare the devastating effects of tragedy on family—then boldly suggests the power to heal lies beyond our loved ones. Shattering assumptions about loss and longing, this shimmering tale of dangerous love will break your heart, and mend it too.

Bridgett M. Davis, author of Into the Go-Slow