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Verk av Matthew Salesses

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In this fictional look at celebrity, sports and navigating it all while your are an Asian American, THE SENSE OF WONDER, by Matthew Salesses, the reader meets Won Lee. Won has fought his way, through lots of unwarranted dismissals and narrow-minded assumptions, into the NBA. When a opportunity presents itself, Won embraces it and makes enough of a impression that he then has figure out what to do when he can't maintain that moment when he is on top of the world.
Salesses does a good job of considering different perspectives when looking at the sudden celebrity of Won and what happens next. Won's life intertwines with the superstar whose home life is in shambles, the journalist who befriends Won but also carries passive resentment that Won got things he never did and his romantic interest that tries to keep him grounded when he lets his public persona become more than who he really is. The reader can feel Won grappling with the right decisions every step of the way. Just as in real life, the book does a excellent job showing that there aren't any decisions that are completely right or completely wrong.
While there were a couple of subplots that I wanted a little less of, I really enjoyed THE SENSE OF WONDER. I received this book as part of the Goodreads Giveaway program.
… (mer)
EHoward29 | 1 annan recension | Apr 2, 2024 |
I've come across dozens of novels about young American men floundering for identity in Prague, and when I read them it's with deep reservations. These are the very people I avoided at all cost in their bookstore and bagel shop, with their trust funds and Lit degrees, treating a whole nation like the backdrop for their personal success story. Of course there's the draw, the backstory of someone I gave directions to, bought a book from, carefully shepherded out of a bar they were too drunk to realize they weren't welcome in.

This particular book is so amazingly typical with every trope of this specific genre, but it's also something else. The story is centered in Tee's inner life, and could really take place anywhere. That aspect is interesting, sometimes well-written, and kept me reading. The story of Prague feels like an overlay of every expat, and frankly I'd rather hear stories from the very real people of Karlín who lost so much, or the people who suffered in the floods of '97 and '99, or the astounding tale of the evacuated zoo, or the scientists and activists working to revitalize the Vltava and restore the floodplain to stop these ever-increasing "100-year floods."

Where does that leave me? I know, there's no zealot like a convert, but I still feel protective of Czechs' opportunities to tell their own stories. So as a 20-something American man's coming of age, this is quite good; as a book of Prague, it's depressingly familiar.
… (mer)
Kiramke | 4 andra recensioner | Jun 27, 2023 |
This novel has two main stories, each told by a first-person narrator. The first is Won Lee, a Korean basketball player for the NY Knicks, the only Asian in the NBA. The other narrator is Carrie Kang, a K-drama producer, and Won's girlfriend. Won and Carrie feel underappreciated and are victims of bias in their respective worlds. Additionally, there is much competition and drama between the two main characters and among the supporting characters, which include the star player on the Knicks, Paul Burton, known as Powerball!, and Robert Sung, a Korean-American ESPN journalist.

None of the primary characters felt a sense of belonging in the roles they chose as careers. All suffered insecurities that manifested in different ways; each wanted to fit in or play life differently. Since insight into the players' thoughts and motivations is prevalent in the book, it has been described as "meta." I think this novel is also supposed to be a fictional "real-life" Korean television drama, K-drama. The tropes common to K-dramas are friendship, family values, and love, blending traditional Confucian with Western materialism and individualism. The Sense of Wonder includes text describing K-drama as portraying the tension between certainty and wonder. The K-drama story within the story and the main plot forces us to consider what is real and imagined by describing uncertainty and using the title significance of the word wonder in various contexts.

Salesses has said that K-dramas are more true-to-life than American TV. He wrote this novel based on parts of his life story, and he emphasizes the themes that are important for him to convey:
-seemingly invisibility of Asian Americans
-racism demonstrated against Asians in the USA
-frame of reference
-characters being outsiders in everyday situations
-power structures in the USA and abroad
-societal expectations, tokenizing
See my reviews at
… (mer)
LindaLoretz | 1 annan recension | May 29, 2023 |
I was initially surprised by the focus on cultural differences and the idea that story telling is almost always judged from a white, straight male perspective. But he made a compelling case and his passing examples of different literary traditions that structure stories differently was intriguing. In the second half he talks more about the structure of stories and discusses organizing workshops to help the author paticipants.
Castinet | 5 andra recensioner | Dec 11, 2022 |



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