Click here for the publisher’s synopsis and jacket copy.
Click here to read an excerpt.
Click here for an audio pronunciation of characters’ names.
PRAISE for Long for This World:
“An intricately structured and powerfully resonant portrait of lives lived at the crossroads of culture, and a family torn between the old world and the new, Long for This World marks a powerful debut from a young writer of great talent and promise.”
—Kate Walbert, National Book Award finalist for Our Kind and author of A Short History of Women
“The title of Chung’s exquisite novel seems to be missing a word: “not long for this world” would be the easy, expected phrase. But little is easy or expected in this multilayered story… Readers who enjoyed superbly crafted, globe-trotting family sagas such as Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows, Naeem Murr’s The Perfect Man, or Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life will swoon over Chung’s breathtaking debut.”
–Library Journal (starred review)
“When a novel, particularly a debut novel, is referred to as ‘ambitious,’ there’s usually an implicit ‘but’ present. In Long for This World, Sonya Chung takes on the dynamics of family—what draws it together and what pulls it apart—through the eyes of a number of players, male and female, old and young, Korean and Korean-American. Both her subject matter and her approach are ambitious, to say the least. The only ‘but’ in my reaction, however, is but she pulls it off—and admirably… Chung balances multiple time frames and points of view well, the voices identifiable without resorting to a shorthand of quirks… her touch is light throughout, and her ear is good… This is a skillful and heartfelt debut.”
–Open Letters Monthly /Like Fire
“…lyrical and insightful debut novel… Chung carefully describes the longing and loss felt by each of the characters she has flawlessly created… Alliances and allegiances are formed between East and West, male and female, young and old, parents and the childless. Chung juxtaposes the Hans in obvious and less obvious pairings, each of which shows them in a new light and highlights their complexity as they struggle with their roles in the family and the world in terms of gender, relationships, career goals, and cultural expectations… Everybody is a little damaged, a little impaired… The story is carefully constructed, planned, and deliberately irregular.”
–The Boston Globe
“Chung presents each scene with confidence and trusts us to make the necessary connections, to see what the characters are saying by allowing themselves to be seen. And in fact, one of the joys in reading this debut is connecting the pieces, then stepping back for the big view: the intricate and nuanced family story that emerges… a portrait of the way the Hans are both fractured and then relinked in unexpected ways. Its quietness belies the deep emotions within.”
-Celeste Ng, Fiction Writers Review
“[A] beautiful book that focuses on the small but complicated negotiations of a family, and larger, global questions of identity, art, and happiness. . . I loved it. It’s so gracefully told, and rich–not to mention riveting.”
-Edan Lepucki, The Millions
“…elegant debut novel.. Switching deftly between different characters’ points of view, Chung portrays with precision and grace each character’s struggle to find his or her place in the family and in the world.”
“Sonya Chung’s Long for This World is a most promising debut novel of ambitious spatial scope and intriguing psychological depth. For Chung’s “world” is nothing less than the whole contemporary, jet-spanned globe as well as the exquisitely wrought, infinite spaces of her protagonists’ interior psyches […] Long for This World is a strikingly accomplished novel of a new talent. Rich with brilliant verbal images, complex family relationships spanning multiple generations on two continents, and sharply realized characters both flawed and admirable.
-Magill’s Literary Annual 2011
“…Chung reveals just enough information to intrigue, as though she knows the precise moment to take away her pen and move on… is equally adept at evoking the environments her characters enter…. excels in the specificity with which [the character] Jane talks about art… If you enjoyed Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake… you will also appreciate the sophisticated and nuanced examination of the lives of the Han family in Long for This World.”
“Chung writes with great empathy and clarity. Her characters are lovingly fleshed out in direct, yet often haunting prose. For the novel’s ambitious scope – spanning multiple decades, continents, generations, cultures and wars – this is really an intimate work… Closely observed and detailed, the characters become real, and their search for the tailwinds that will let them carry on urgent and satisfying.”
“Complex, many layered, and sensitive writing makes reading this small novel a delight. And delving into the characters’ family relationships will make readers examine their own.”
“…a beautifully written story… layered both in subject matter and in emotion… like a masterful poem it is no longer someone else’s story, it is our own.”
-Rosebud Book Reviews
“A wonderful and eminently readable novel, rich in cultural understanding and emotional insight. Sonya Chung is an extremely talented writer.”
–Mary Yukari Waters, O’Henry and Pushcart Prize Award-winning author of The Laws of Evening and The Favorites
For “hyphenated” authors […] using ethnicity and personal experiences can all too often lead to stories involving new immigrants, diasporas and a citizen of the “new” world returning back to his familial and traditional roots.
There are however some stories that rise above formula, extending their reach beyond the Asian-American, yielding a more universally appealing novel.
SONYA CHUNG’s debut novel LONG FOR THIS WORLD takes a familiar theme — the tensions within a family straddling new and old, modernity and tradition — and builds something far more complex, detailed and illuminating.
A MORE Magazine “Books We’re Buzzing About” Selection, spring 2010
Book trailer by Connie Chung