‘Severance’ Author Ling Ma Has a New Novel, and Oprah Daily Has the Exclusive Cover Reveal
The beginnings of Ling Ma, break, set the literary landscape ablaze when it was published to wide acclaim in 2018. A genre novel that mixes social satire with dystopian elements, Breakup won the Kirkus Prize that year for fiction and was nominated New York Times Remarkable book. Exclusively, Oprah Daily reveals the cover of Ma’s highly anticipated collection of fictional shorts, assembly of happiness, which builds on its previous themes but also charts its own stylistic path, boring deep into the inner lives of its characters.
The composition is simple but subtle, with bold print against a cellophane-wrapped packet of oranges you’d find at a market or delicatessen. The image “was the designer’s idea,” Ma notes. Kate Braverman as Gish Jen. An uprooting permeates Ma’s women, both a repulsion from the male gaze and a need for validation. “The photo of oranges sheathed under what looks like fluorescent lighting…the impression is one of compromised pleasure, which juxtaposed the title nicely. Although the image references one story, “Orange”, this theme of compromised pleasure runs throughout the book as a whole. »
Most of these stories were seeded by dreams and written in the first year of the Covid pandemic. Ma eventually showed them to her editor, which caused “a lot of revisions”. Make no mistake: Montage of happiness does not offer an optimistic outlook on life, but it is a bold reflection of our zeitgeist. Her men are predatory and irredeemable – among them an abusive serial lover and a stable of faceless ex-boyfriends – and her women are both victims and victors, like a pair of rebelling Chinese American girls. against their mothers’ expectations by experimenting with sex and drugs. However, beneath the darkness there is a vein of fantasy, as in the bitingly funny “Yeti Lovemaking.”
For Mom, Montage of happiness proved to be as creatively rewarding as Breakup. “In creating a collection, I wanted to play more with form and style,” says Ma. And her experience has been wildly successful, and gives us plenty to look forward to this fall, when the book comes out.
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