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Publisher's Summary

“The funniest, most poignant novel of the year.” —Vogue 

Disorientation does what great comedies and satires are supposed to do: make you laugh while forcing you to ponder the uncomfortable implications of every punchline.” —The Washington Post

A Taiwanese American woman’s coming-of-consciousness ignites eye-opening revelations and chaos on a college campus in this outrageously hilarious and startlingly tender debut novel.

Twenty-nine-year-old PhD student Ingrid Yang is desperate to finish her dissertation on the late canonical poet Xiao-Wen Chou and never read about “Chinese-y” things again. But after years of grueling research, all she has to show for her efforts are junk food addiction and stomach pain. When she accidentally stumbles upon a curious note in the Chou archives one afternoon, she convinces herself it’s her ticket out of academic hell.

But Ingrid’s in much deeper than she thinks. Her clumsy exploits to unravel the note’s message lead to an explosive discovery, upending not only her sheltered life within academia but her entire world beyond it. With her trusty friend Eunice Kim by her side and her rival Vivian Vo hot on her tail, together they set off a roller coaster of mishaps and misadventures, from book burnings and OTC drug hallucinations, to hot-button protests and Yellow Peril 2.0 propaganda. 

In the aftermath, nothing looks the same to Ingrid—including her gentle and doting fiancé, Stephen Greene. When he embarks on a book tour with the super kawaii Japanese author he’s translated, doubts and insecurities creep in for the first time… As the events Ingrid instigated keep spiraling, she’ll have to confront her sticky relationship to White men and White institutions—and, most of all, herself.

For listeners of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown, this uproarious and bighearted satire is a blistering send-up of privilege and power in America, and a profound reckoning of individual complicity and unspoken rage. In this electrifying debut novel from a provocative new voice, Elaine Hsieh Chou asks who gets to tell our stories—and how the story changes when we finally tell it ourselves.

©2022 Elaine Hsieh Chou (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“[F]unny and insightful, with plenty to say about art, identity, Orientalism and the politics of academia.”—Steph Cha, New York Times Book Review

“[A] literary satire that takes a hilarious and refreshingly honest look at the power dynamics of college campuses…This one will have you rolling over with laughter and texting your college group chat.”NPR, “Books We Love 2022”

“A rollicking, whip-smart ride through the hallowed halls of academia.”Harpers Bazaar

What listeners say about Disorientation

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Exceptional

Wow. I will be thinking about this book for a long time. I wish I could read it again for the first time. This was a wonderful read. Thank you to the author and narrator. Truly exceptional.

4 people found this helpful

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it's worth a read.

it's a great listen. I laughed put Loud a lot. it's also really sad

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A crafty enjoyable read not lacking in substance

Chou’s craftily marries humor and drama in this satire that, given the times we live in, feels less satirical than it does grossly realistic. A 2022 must-read!

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Learned a lot about cooptation of Asian peoples and culture but tedious in places

The story led me along but would have benefited from editing in places. I did appreciate the slow awakening of the Taiwanese main character to consciousness of how the dominant (white) culture shaped her behavior and choices. Ultimately, she went with her new awareness and an open heart, with many complex questions unresolved. I also liked that not everything got wrapped up happily at the end.