The Border of Paradise

The Border of Paradise A remarkable multigenerational novel The Border of Paradise transports readers into the world of an iconoclastic midcentury family In booming postwar Brooklyn the Nowak Piano Company is an American

  • Title: The Border of Paradise
  • Author: Esmé Weijun Wang
  • ISBN: 9781939419699
  • Page: 483
  • Format: Paperback
  • A remarkable multigenerational novel, The Border of Paradise transports readers into the world of an iconoclastic midcentury family.In booming postwar Brooklyn, the Nowak Piano Company is an American success story There is just one problem the Nowak s only son, David A handsome kid and shy like his mother, David struggles with neuroses If not for his only friend, MariaA remarkable multigenerational novel, The Border of Paradise transports readers into the world of an iconoclastic midcentury family.In booming postwar Brooklyn, the Nowak Piano Company is an American success story There is just one problem the Nowak s only son, David A handsome kid and shy like his mother, David struggles with neuroses If not for his only friend, Marianne, David s life would be intolerable When David inherits the piano company at just 18 and Marianne breaks things off, David sells the company and travels around the world In Taiwan, his life changes when he meets the daughter of a local madame beautiful, sharp tongued Daisy Returning to the United States, the couple and newborn son buy an isolated country house in Northern California s Polk Valley.As David s mental health deteriorates, he has a brief affair with Marianne, producing a daughter When Marianne appears at their doorstep, the couple s fateful decision to take the child as their own determines a tragic course of events for the entire family Told from multiple perspectives, The Border of Paradise culminates in heartrending fashion, as the young heirs to the Nowak fortune must confront their past and the tragic reality of their future.

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    About “Esmé Weijun Wang

    • Esmé Weijun Wang

      Esm Weijun Wang is an award winning mental health advocate and speaker, as well as a journalist and essayist The Border of Paradise is her first novel Just announced as the winner of the 2016 Graywolf Press NonFiction Prize for her book of essays, The Collected Schizophrenias She lives in San Francisco.

    213 thoughts on “The Border of Paradise

    • Mental illness haunts an Asian American family in this offbeat multi generational saga Wang s debut novel opens in 1968 with David Nowak reporting from the motel room where he plans to kill himself Succeeding portions of the novel are narrated from other perspectives David s wife Jia Hui, aka Daisy, whom he met in Taiwan then their son William and his half sister Gillian Jia Hui s narrative is the most entrancing Presented as a translation, it includes occasional foreign characters or blank spac [...]


    • This dark and disturbing book examines the way that mental illness can impact an entire family.It starts with David, a neurotic young boy who inherits his family fortune As a young adult, David travels to Taiwan and meets a woman at a brothel whom he marries and takes back to America to start a family.We know from the opening chapter that David commits suicide when his children are still young, and this sets the gothic tone for everything that follows The effect this has on the rest of their liv [...]



    • I ve followed Esm Weijun Wang on the internet for a long time, ever since she was a writer on the blog Fashion for Writers I greatly enjoy her writing, especially her work in educating others about mental illness and mental health, so I was excited to finally get a chance to read the novel she s been working on for so long.I have to say, this novel left me feeling like someone had punched me in the gut or stabbed me in the heart, multiple times throughout the book actually It is an incredibly he [...]


    • Full disclosure, this author and I share a publisher With that said, I loved this book It started a little slow for me but picked up near the middle By the end, I was staying up late trying to squeeze one chapter in before bed Much has been said about the mental illness aspects of the story the NYT did a good write up about it I, instead, want to focus on the sense of isolation that permeates the novel I ve long been a fan of books that separate their characters from the larger world and this i [...]


    • Wow A truly magnificent novel I read the first chapter sitting on the floor trying to work on my posture with an old friend napping beside me, and though a little slow in the beginning, retrospectively, the pace is nothing short of necessary and perfect easing me into a world that is at times frantic and other times untroubled This is the first novel I have ever read that explores mental illness and schizophrenia Though at the end, Wang reveals with courage, honesty, and bravery that isolation a [...]


    • Holy shit, that was one of the best books I ve read but one of the most disturbing and dark too Wow I need some time to digest and then I ll want to talk about it with someone.


    • This novel lodged in my heart like love, or maybe just an open chest wound So many books are about good people trying to do their best, but this book is about deeply, deeply flawed people who act out of an unbalanced mix of compassion and selfishness It s hard to read sometimes This is a story that leaves shrapnel behind But the thing that really makes it so challenging in a good way is that it s impossible to fully sympathize with any of the characters I loved and hated every single one of them [...]


    • I read this in two sittings on a plane and WOAH Fall of the House of Usher except a novel, with immigrants, and potentially Gothicism.


    • This book is just WOW I read it slowly, I never read books slowly But something about the writing and the style just made me slow down, I reread passages several times I ve read the same book 3x in a row before but I ve never taken the time I did on a first reading the way I did here There is so much here and its provocative and beautiful and terrible and sad and incredibly well written Great story, great book Even the cover art is amazing.


    • Amazingly executed, terrifyingly grotesque Esm Wang is a master in storytelling images from scenes haunt me still Told from the perspectives of the various characters, it is a story of post WWII wealth, migration, secrets repressed and untold, and the ways familial patterns can wreak havoc on entire generations It s a gothic tale with spectacular elements, conjured by a mind which knows, intimately, the darkest caves the human psyche can go.



    • OH MAN was this good If the first 50 odd pages seem confusing at first, please stick with it A rich and rewarding read.


    • Many novels start strong and fall apart in the second half, but I found this book did the opposite The first hundred pages or so are slow, but I read the last 200 pages in one day Parts 3 and 4 are spectacular, especially Gillian s chapters.


    • This is a dark book, very dark, but I couldn t stop reading it and although some of it was predictable, I wasn t sure what would happen at the end until I reached the last sentence.



    • This is a book is about entitled jerks, being trapped in an isolation of your own making, of someone else s making It is a dark story of family trauma and sickness and abuse, decades long I do enjoy these kind of multi generational stories like Eugenides Middlesex, with which The Border of Paradise shares some themes feelings if not overall tone, which is even darker here, and very claustrophobic I am glad the book switched between perspectives, because illness and upbringing or no, David Novak [...]


    • Following the story of Polish American David Nowak, we see the unfolding of his life from childhood, adulthood, marriage to his Taiwanese wife, Daisy, the birth of his two children William and Gillian, and inevitably his suicide In the midst of his mind slipping from him, he has an affair with a childhood sweetheart, Marianne, and has a child by her But the story is than his affair Honestly, it s than just about him It s a story about his wife It s about his daughter raised by his wife, who is [...]


    • Not too long ago, my friend Carrie Lou and I discussed how we don t always want to know the author personally when we re reading their books, preferring to maintain a distance between art and the artist I have to make an exception for Esm Weijun Wang, who I ve known since we were teenagers We shared some intimate moments together, which cannot be replicated in most adult friendships I have in my life Reading her debut novel within a few days made me feel close to her, loving the way her prose fl [...]


    • I don t know what to say about a book with which I had zero connection Aesthetics aside, I found most of the characters two dimensional David, whose psychosis is his defining feature Daisy who is equally insane regarding the imposed seclusion of her children and the children themselves who are an odd combination of intelligent and feral These characters are all defined by their madness and aside from painting a poetic version of insanity, I am not sure what else the author is trying to convey I [...]


    • A stunning, moving debut by Esme Weijun Wang Wang writes with keen sensitivity about mental illness and suicide Some of her insights hit me really hard.However, not all of narrators in this multi perspective story resonated with me I felt most engaged when reading from Jia Hui and Gillian s point of view I also liked Wang s code switching between English and Taiwanese and use of blank spaces to represent language barriers.The subject matter in this creepy, gothic novel won t be for everyone it d [...]


    • This is easily one of the best books I ve read this year Beautifully written, full of devastating little truths, and with an ending that continues to haunt me, months later Though the lives of the family depicted in this book are unsettling and often dark, there are moments of grace throughout, as well I struggle to come up with something tidy that can sum up with this book is about, but if I had to say, I d say it s about family, and how we both are and are not defined by the traumas in our liv [...]


    • What a beautiful gut punch of a novel Wang s prose is gorgeous, strong and seamless with each POV switch About a third of the way through the book, I couldn t imagine I would like the characters by the end and despite recoiling from their selfishness, their cruelty, their darkness, I found myself empathizing with their hurt and their love This easily could have been a story without empathy for anyone involved, but that thrum of connection makes it powerful I only own one bookshelf at the moment, [...]


    • Pretty amazing novel, I will be thinking about it for a long time David Nowak, growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s, is the heir to the Nowak piano company He struggles with mental illness his whole life After his idyllic relationship with childhood sweetheart Marianne ends, he marries a young woman from Taiwan who goes by Daisy The story is told from his point of view, and then Daisy s, and then from that of their children What was really fantastic was how dramatic and gothic things get in the m [...]


    • This is a dense but affecting novel You feel deeply for each character that exists within these pages You understand how monstrous they become, each seeking their small bit of eden Mental illness hangs heavy around the neck of each character, whether their own illness, or a parent s And the ending, despite its cinematic power and the deft way it allowed Gillian to be wild, to be free, left me feeling a little cheated It felt like a moment of magic in a world that read as stubbornly real.


    • The Border of Paradise is a textured, devastating story of the painful but promising dances between life and death, love and abandonment, home and distance The author demonstrate a mastery of restraint in her prose, delivering just enough detail to give shape to the rotten, the lively, and in short glimpses, the holy.


    • Author clearly has talent as a writer, I just hated the story If you like murder, suicide, incest and insanity I guess this book is for you I stopped caring about any of the characters not even halfway thru the book, none of them seemed even human I just finished it to just it


    • I ve been dreaming about this book it s kind of devastating later I am SO tired of reading books set in new york city but i love her nonfiction writing so i m definitely going to read this.



    • This is a dark but surprisingly believable story of a multi layered immigrant immigrant American family whose life paths are intensely shaped by Fear These Fears all real life, complex fears that somehow successfully intertwine into a singular narrative are chilling and creepy to many, but uncomfortably believable to someone who works with trauma mental health among asian immigrant communities.FEARS How They Dominate Mental Health Fear of the eroding edge of manic depression self harm suicide Da [...]


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