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A Quitter's Paradise

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You’re on movie and television sets, and on theater stages—does that preparation and anxiety translate at all to the preparation and anxiety leading up to having a conversation with an author whose book you want to acquire, or to publication day? Or does it feel very separate?

A Quitter’s Paradise | Elysha Chang | 9781638930525 | NetGalley A Quitter’s Paradise | Elysha Chang | 9781638930525 | NetGalley

With tenderness and humor, Elysha Chang . . . [asks] what it means for a first-generation daughter to stop striving, to want a meaningful life on different terms. A riveting, wise, and singular novel about grief, love, longing, and the mysteries of family, A Quitter’s Paradise will linger in your heart and mind.” What I was trying to express was that I didn’t want to co-opt an author and make them feel that that was my end point, that I just wanted to get my hands on the rights, you know? The experience of reading is so special, it’s so unique. If it came to be that an author felt that I was the right person to pursue the screen rights, that would be a cherry on the sundae. But it wasn’t what I set my eyes on because I felt that it muddied the waters, and it took the purity away from the whole experience and the exercise of convincing an author to let me shepherd this alongside them. But also, that it turns into a kind of monetary thing—not that it necessarily specifically says that, but there’s something unpleasant, slightly, about it for me.You’ve said before that you’re not interested in the adaptation potential of a book. Is that still the case? I always feel nervous about the responsibility attached to it. It’s somebody’s, in many cases, 5, 10 years of solitary work: quiet, secretive to some degree. And in some cases, it’s been painful financially and emotionally. There’s just so much at stake for these writers. I tend to be nervous, anyway, about everything that matters to me. Maybe that’s a good thing. Eleanor Liu is doing just fine. Yes, she’s hiding things from her husband. Sure, she quit her PhD program and is now conducting unauthorized research on illegitimately procured mice. And, true, her mother is dead, and Eleanor has yet to go through her things. But what else is she supposed to do? What shape can grief take when you didn’t understand the person you’ve lost?

A Quitter’s Paradise by Elysa Chang - Ashley Hajimirsadeghi A Quitter’s Paradise by Elysa Chang - Ashley Hajimirsadeghi

Yes, she’s keeping secrets from her husband. Sure, she quit her PhD program and is now conducting unauthorized research on illegitimately procured mice. And, true, her mother is dead, and Eleanor has yet to go through her things. But what else is she supposed to do? What shape can grief take when you didn’t understand the person you’ve lost? In A Quitter’s Paradise, the darkly humorous debut by bold, new voice Elysha Chang, a young woman does everything she can to ignore her mother’s death, even as unearthed family secrets become increasingly inextricable from her own.

A Quitter’s Paradise is, in many ways, about someone searching for a way to see herself and her life objectively. It’s a search that consumes the protagonist, Eleanor, and, I would say, results in a lot of her strange behavior and distorted interpretations of the world. Dror Cohen has so cleverly captured the irony of Eleanor’s preoccupation with seeing and thinking ‘clearly.’ I absolutely love this cover’s gesture to all that lies beyond Eleanor’s field of vision. How unaware that tiny figure is of what’s ahead, behind, and above her. Of course, it is all perfectly visible—just from the marmoset’s point of view.

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