Sunday, June 20, 2021

Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I reread The Great Gatsby, I hadn't really remembered the character of Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy and sometimes narrator. In this retelling, she is the focus, lending a queer, Asian, and sometimes magical perspective. I know I claim to dislike retellings, but I loved this!

Since the original work is now famously in the public domain, many authors have been taking the work and running with it. Nghi Vo uses some pieces verbatim, whether they be dialogue or scene setters, but always for a purpose of showing from a different angle. Jordan has a lot of access to the characters, after all, and also has the ability to create out of paper cutting (took me back to The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu.) Gatsby may have more secrets than we knew, the rich and famous drink Demoniac, and there seems to be glamour beyond just what money can buy.

I've been putting in some shifts as a summer advisor at work, and one day I brought this with me to read over a break. One of the incoming students was telling me about writing about Gatsby for her AP exam, and I pulled this book out to show her. Maybe I have a little glamour myself.

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