Monday, April 15, 2013

Steph Cha

Steph Cha is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. She lives in her native city of Los Angeles, California.

Follow Her Home, Cha's first novel, is now out from Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books.

Last month I asked the author about what she was reading.  Her reply:
I read a book or two a week, and about 99% of this non-Internet reading is made up of fiction. I alternate between male and female authors and have done so for the past several years. It was a conscious decision, and one that I’m glad to have made – the quality of my reading has not suffered, and I’ve expanded my horizons since my college days of Roth and Murakami. I’ve been on a roll with good books for the last couple weeks, so I’ll share my most recent reads.

Southland by Nina Revoyr

I bought this book after a panel at Skylight Books on “How to Tell an L.A. Story.” I wish I’d read it years ago. It’s a sweeping history of Japanese and black families in Los Angeles, revealed through a slow-burning mystery. There’s a lot of heartbreak and sickening injustice, and the writing is consistently evocative and lovely. Southland reminds me of The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee, which is another one of my favorites from the last few years. If you like your fiction exhaustingly sad, I’d put both of these on your list.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

There are a couple things I don’t like about The Art of Fielding. The novel revolves around five main characters, and the one female character is a total Jessa, which, ugh, whatever. I also don’t buy one of the main storylines, which starts with a 60-year-old man exploring his homosexual feelings for the first time, for a boy a third of his age. But everything else – beautiful. Harbach’s prose is as thoughtful and eloquent as it is accessible, and I understand why his debut has done so well. The novel is about baseball and baseball players, but you don’t need to care about sports to care about Henry Skrimshander and Mike Schwartz. The Art of Fielding is about life and artistry, struggle, failure, victory, and the pursuit of perfection. It’s a very human novel.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I don’t read too many funny novels, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette makes me wonder why. This is a fast read, vivid and entertaining, and I’d like to read more like it. The epistolary style is unrealistic, sure, but it’s clever in the best sense of the word. The story is compelling, and each of its legs filled with feeling and sometimes biting humor. Seattle gets a neat, good-natured thrashing.

Paradise Lost by John Milton

I majored in English, but I graduated with some significant holes in my education. I’ve been trying to fill these in ever since, reading at least a handful of canonical works a year. Paradise Lost is a particularly big hole. I started it four days ago, and since I’m reading a book a day, I should be done in another week. I’m not sure why I thought I might not enjoy it, because it is a stunning masterpiece that everyone should read for the sheer fun of it. I’m reading out loud so I don’t miss a sound. Maybe it’s enriching my dog.

Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara

I started this list with Nina Revoyr, and I’m ending it with Naomi Hirahara. Revoyr is half-Japanese, and Southland’s protagonist is a gay Japanese-American woman. Hirahara is a Japanese-American woman, and her protagonist Mas Arai is an aging male Hiroshima survivor. Revoyr and Hirahara are writing in the same universe – Japanese-American communities in Los Angeles, squirming under the weight of history – and I’m happy to be reading them almost back to back. Summer of the Big Bachi is a mystery, and like all great mysteries, it uses suspense and secrets to reveal a darkened part of the world. I’m not done with this one yet, but I will probably tear through the rest of it today or tomorrow.
Visit Steph Cha's website and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Steph Cha and Duke.

My Book, The Movie: Follow Her Home.

The Page 69 Test: Follow Her Home.

--Marshal Zeringue