New work called “Returning to the Problem” up at the Brooklyn Rail

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I’ve some new work (an essay-poem-fiction smoosh) just up at the Brooklyn Rail. With great thanks to Donald Breckenridge.

It’s not true I didn’t remember. I did remember some things. I remembered the city. Big avenues and parks and terminals and plazas. Crowds going to and from work. People strolling. A Chinese writer I’d read said it’s impossible to say if a person is good or bad when they’re walking the street. They may be coming from evil or good, or on their way to committing evil or good, but in their moment of walking they are neither. Thus they are most human at that moment. Blankly human. The Chinese writer had been in prison when he wrote that.

Read the rest at http://brooklynrail.org/2017/07/fiction/Returning-to-the-Problem

Christian Lorentzen in New York Magazine

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Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs is a novel of ideas, small, elegant ideas about art and protest, and one of the most striking literary works to emerge from the Occupy movement . . . The possible futility, complicity, and co-optation of protest are the ideas Dear Cyborgs circles around without ever giving up on the idea that resistance is essential . . . I had expected the decade’s wave of protests to yield a raft of conventional social novels—some earnest, some satirical, perhaps not a few reactionary—but in Dear Cyborgs Lim has delivered something far more idiosyncratic, intricate, and useful: a novel that resists and subverts conventions at every turn.

Christian Lorentzen in New York Magazine

 

 

Interview at Kartika Review

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Thanks to Paul Lai for this interview in the latest issue of the Karikta Review.

Eugene Lim is a singular voice in contemporary American literature—read one of his novels, and you’ll never forget the stories, characters, and atmosphere he evokes in his quasi-dreamlike narratives. His first novel Fog & Car (Ellipsis Press, 2008) traces the diverging and converging paths of a recently divorced couple. The man settles into a quiet life in a small town while the woman starts anew in New York City, and the people who enter their post-marriage lives are not always as disconnected from their married lives as they may seem. In his second novel, The Strangers (Black Square Press, 2013), a larger cast of characters centers around various twins separated by geographical distance as well as starkly different worlds. His third novel, Dear Cyborgs (FSG Originals, 2017), is framed by the story of childhood friends who re-encounter each other later in life, and the stories within this frame consider spies, superheroes, and very pointed commentaries on protest and art. In all three novels, Lim explores resonances, coincidences, and links between characters that bring up questions of fate or otherworldly design. He carries over names between novels as well, so even though the novels seem to concern very different characters and worlds, there is a semblance of continuity that lingers.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Lim’s novels is that the worlds he creates seem at once generic (with a timeless, universal quality) while also strongly rooted in contemporary political concerns. In his latest novel, Dear Cyborgs, for instance, the characters reference South Korean activist Kim Jin-suk who famously spent a year on top of a construction crane; Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden; the Occupy movement in the United States; and the large scale anti-war protests during the build-up to and start of the second Iraq/Gulf War. Lim also includes Asian American characters and narrators regularly in his novels though the plots and themes generally engage obliquely, maybe allusively, with more traditional narratives of racialization. Overall, at least for me as a reader, Lim’s novels also present a haunting atmosphere that treads on possible supernatural elements without tipping over into outright horror or fantasy. We are excited to talk to the author about his writing and working life in the interview that follows…

Read the interview at the Kartika Review.

Interview at The Millions

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Thanks to Evan Allgood for this interview.

Eugene Lim will not choose between superheroes and soliloquies. His new novel, Dear Cyborgs, shifts between quick bursts of pulpy action and long philosophical monologues. Characters kidnap, shoot, and poison one other, then weigh the merits of protest and relay brushes with gentrification. Capitalism looms over the book like one of Marvel’s Sentinels — inescapable, maybe indestructible. Low art sits next to high, smudging the hierarchy. The term “thoughtful dystopian romp” comes to mind. The year or universe is hazy, but we can make out some of our less fine hours, our targeted ads. Two worlds slide together and a third comes into focus. Is this how people write in the future?

Lim and I exchanged emails about the value of protest, the act of reading as resistance, and the death and rebirth of the novel.

Read the interview at The Millions.

Interview on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show

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Eugene Lim joins us to discuss his novel Dear Cyborgs. The novel begins in a small Midwestern town, with two Asian American boys who become friends over their mutual love of comic books. Meanwhile, in an alternate/future universe, Lim tells the story of detective Frank Exit, who is trailing a cultural terrorist named Ms. Mistleto, and their chase around the world.”

Listen to the interview here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/eugene-lim/

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