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Debut novel skewers stereotypes of Asian New Zealanders


Decades worth of stereotypes about young Asian New Zealanders are to be skewered by the March 16 release of Sharon Lam’s debut novel.

“New Zealanders have long imagined that all Asian New Zealanders as hard-working, diligent and fastidious. Paula, the titular lonely Asian, takes less than a chapter to slay these lazy cultural imaginings,” said Lawrence and Gibson editor Murdoch Stephens.

Lonely Asian Woman follows Paula as she stumbles through her mid-twenties in search of work, love and good Malaysian food. But this is not a typical coming-of-age novel. She does not find herself nor is she embraced by the country. Instead, a series of increasingly surreal and absurd moments lead both the character and the reader to question what exactly is this work that Lam has taken us into.

“There are so many expectations to being a person today, which is compounded when you also happen to be an Asian immigrant. There aren’t enough stories about sleepy underachievers just trying to try their best,” said Lam.

Lonely Asian Woman marks the arrival of an overdue voice in our national literature.

“Lam has somehow succeeded in writing a book that is both wildly sentimental and precisely of this moment. She also has a fascinating talent to both tell a story and to have readers continue to guess where it will go,” said author Brannavan Gnanalingam.

“It’s fresh. It’s unique. And it’s something I don’t think that New Zealand has seen before.”

Lam may be familiar to New Zealand audiences as her work has been read on Radio New Zealand, appeared in Vice, in numerous literary festivals as well as literary journals Starling and Turbine. She completed the IIML Masters in Creative Writing in 2017.

Lonely Asian Woman will be launched on Saturday March 16 at play_station art gallery, 233 Willis St, Wellington from 6pm.

RRP $29

ISBN 9780473470326

RELEASE DATE 16 March 2019


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