A hapless writer steals the unfinished manuscript of her late popular Asian friend. With its publication under her own name, the discussion about cultural appropriation gets going and everything becomes seriously out of hand. This novel is simultaneously satire, indictment and suspense. A brilliant combination that held my attention until the bitter end.
'Well, I don’t know much about these things. But it seems like a public archive is a good way to let people remember Athena. She was so brilliant - well, you know that, her mind worked in such fascinating ways. I’m sure some literary scholars might be interested in doing a study. Athena would like that. She was always so thrilled when academics wrote about her work; she said it was better validation than the … the adoration of the masses. Her words. Anyhow, it's not like I'm doing anything important with them.' She nods to the corner. I follow her gaze, and my breath catches. The notebooks are right there, piled unceremoniously together in a big cardboard box, shelved beneath a large bag of rice and what looks like a smooth, unstriped watermelon.
Wild fantasies flood my mind. I could grab them and run out, be halfway down the block before Mrs. Liu realizes what's happening. I could douse this whole place in oil while she's out and burn them, and no one would be any wiser.
'Have you read what's in them?' I ask cautiously. Mrs. Liu sighs again. 'No, I've thought about it, but I … it’s very painful.'