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The Unpassing

Chia-Chia Lin

5 Reviews

Rated 0

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

'This brilliant novel is composed of equal parts mystery, menace and ravishment' Garth Greenwell

'Breathtaking . . . Chia-Chia Lin is a remarkable writer' Yaa Gyasi

A major US debut novel in 2019

Shortlisted for the Centre for Fiction First Novel Prize

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

In Chia-Chia Lin's piercing debut novel, The Unpassing, we meet a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and contractor, while the loving, strong-willed, unpredictably emotional mother holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes a week later to learn that his younger sister, Ruby, was infected too. She did not survive.

Routine takes over for the grieving family, with the siblings caring for one another as they befriend the neighbouring children and explore the surrounding woods, while distance grows between the parents as each deals with the loss alone. When the father, increasingly guilt-ridden after Ruby's death, is sued over an improperly installed water well that gravely harms a little boy, the chaos that follows unearths what really happened to Ruby.

With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, Chia-Chia Lin explores the fallout from the loss of a child and a family's anguish playing out in a place that doesn't yet feel like home. Emotionally raw and subtly suspenseful, The Unpassing is a deeply felt family saga that dismisses the myth of the American dream for a harsher, but ultimately profound, reality.

'A singularly vast and captivating novel, beautifully written in free-flowing prose that quietly disarms with its intermittent moments of poetic idiosyncrasy' New York Times Book Review

'A striking debut by an unforgettable new voice' Cosmopolitan

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Praise for The Unpassing

  • Like the landscape it inhabits, this brilliant novel is composed of equal parts mystery, menace, and ravishment. It's difficult to think of another recent book in which emotion mounts so steadily and inexorably, nearly imperceptibly, until the last pages arrive with almost unbearable force. Chia-Chia Lin is among the best new writers I've read in years

  • The Unpassing is a breathtaking novel, full of characters as strong and as wild as the Alaskan landscape they inhabit. Sentence after gorgeous sentence, I was pulled into their eery and beautiful world. Chia-Chia Lin is a remarkable writer

  • A singularly vast and captivating novel, beautifully written in free-flowing prose that quietly disarms with its intermittent moments of poetic idiosyncrasy. But what makes Lin's novel such an important book is the extent to which it probes America's myth-making about itself, which can just as easily unmake as it can uplift - New York Times Book Review

  • Graceful and precise - TIME

  • The Unpassing is a searing, open wound of a book, marvelously alive and, quite simply, remarkable . . . This is a story for our times. And a story unlike any other

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