Friday, March 16, 2012

Cristina Alger

Cristina Alger graduated from Harvard College in 2002 and from New York University School of Law in 2007. She has worked as an analyst at Goldman, Sachs, & Co. and as an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale, & Dorr. She lives in New York City, where she was born and raised. The Darlings is her first novel.

Not so long ago I asked her about what she was reading. Her reply:
I picked up Alex George’s A Good American for all the wrong reasons. For one, he’s handsome. I have no idea why this would drive me to pick up his book, but in the spirit of honesty, there it is. Second, he reminds me of me. He’s a lawyer by training and a debut novelist. Sure, he’s also an Englishman living in Missouri, but still, I felt a certain kinship with Alex George. I would be remiss in not supporting him.

This dubious rationale for purchasing A Good American notwithstanding, I absolutely loved his book. It is as once funny and sad, brave and tender. The protagonists, Frederick and Jette, are beautifully drawn. And their story is universal: they are outsiders in a new country, seeking to carve out a new definition of home.

Frederick and Jette’s story is narrated by their grandson, James. In telling their story, James learns more about his own. As the child of an immigrant (my mother emigrated from Cuba to the United States in 1959), this element of the plot really resonated with me. I came away from the book wanting to learn more about my mother’s story, and in so doing, my own.

I’m now midway through Drifting House by Krys Lee, another recent fiction debut. Curiously, Drifting House also turns around the immigrant experience, this time in a series of short stories that explore Korean cultural identity. I saw Krys Lee read at the Center for Fiction a few weeks ago, and I was stunned by her talent. Her writing is breathtaking. Much like Alex George, I can’t wait to see what comes next from this gifted debut writer.
Visit Cristina Alger's website.

--Marshal Zeringue