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.

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