"Fiercely satirical. . . . Yamashita presents [an] intricate plot with mordant wit." New York Times Book Review
"A stunner. . . . An exquisite mystery novel. But this is a novel of dystopia and apocalypse; the mystery concerns the tragic flaws of human nature." Library Journal (starred review)
"Brilliant. . . . An ingenious interpretation of social woes." Booklist (starred review)
"Yamashita handles her eccentrics and the setting of their adventures with panache. David Foster Wallace meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez." Publishers Weekly
Irreverently juggling magical realism, film noir, hip hop, and chicanismo, Tropic of Orange takes place in a Los Angeles where the homeless, gangsters, infant organ entrepreneurs, and Hollywood collide on a stretch of the Harbor Freeway. Hemmed in by wildfires, it's a symphony conducted from an overpass, grandiose, comic, and as diverse as the city itself.
Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Tropic of Orange, Circle K Cycles, I Hotel , and Anime Wong , all published by Coffee House Press. I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award.
|Publisher:||Coffee House Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Karen Tei Yamashita: Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest , Brazil-Maru , Tropic of Orange , Circle K Cycles , I Hotel , and Anime Wong , all published by Coffee House Press. I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award. She has been a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellow and co-holder of the University of California Presidential Chair for Feminist & Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. She is currently Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The plot of Tropic of Orange centers around a highway accident that becomes a homeless encampment as people are forced to leave their cars on a mile-stretch in between two burning semis, and an orange tied to the Tropic of Orange that pulls that latitudinal line northward to L.A. I'm going to devolve into a fourth grade book review (as do most of the reviewers quoted on the book jacket) in saying that the themes of the book are immigration, race, class, a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic society. And how. It's not subtle, this book.I wish more of Tropic of Orange was about Emi - she's funny and her plot line is more compelling than the conspiracy of transplant baby parts and an ancient wrestler who pulls trucks around with his love handles. The parts of the book without her take themselves too seriously - they believe their own poetry and their own magical realism.
I have to be honest. I was frustrated while I was reading this book because I really had no idea what was going on. I knew somehow it all made sense, and I constantly told myself that, but up until the ending of the book, I asked myself: "What the heck did I just read?" Not until after my California Fiction class discussed this book did it really start to make sense. Not perfect sense, but I realized how it made sense. From the beginning of this novel, an insignificant little orange becomes the most fantastical, most magical thing the characters ever known. It actually becomes the most hated fruit in the book (and you'll see why when you read it), but it represents more than what it seems. Everything in this book is more than it seems, that's why you must read it with an open mind.To perhaps assist anyone who is still trying to figure out what's going on, an invisible, (yet visible to some characters) line starts moving from the South (Mexico) to the North (specifically Los Angeles in Southern California). So basically, the line, that is usually an arbitrary line on a map that represents what the borders of an area are, actually "comes to life" as it physically moves the geography. Once you start to realize that, many other things start to make sense. Think about the gangs that Buzzworm talks about. They take over certain areas of the urban area, but what do they really "own"? Is this really a novel about California, or does this book comment on other nationalities as well? Remember the Japanese American reporter Emi? Remember Bobby who came from Singapore? Remember Gabriel who came from Mexico? And Rafaela who takes care of his house in Mexico?The amazing thing about this book is the way it is broken up into parts. The are seven chapters in the novel each representing the seven main characters. There are seven chapters for each of the seven days. Each character is unique and fun to read about. I like the way each character has his or her own individual voice, especially Bobby who is actually told in third person point of view like the rest of the characters except for Gabriel (who I will get to later). Bobby's chapter is always written in colloquial language to show the complexity of his character. Quoted directly from the book, Bobby is a "Chinese man from Singapore with a Vietnam name speaking like a Mexican living in Koreatown." Now how cool is that? I found myself looking forward to Bobby's chapter everyday, but the other characters were interesting to read about too. Like the Japanese American Manzanar Murakami who conducts invisible music from traffic overpasses, but is the music really invisible? Or the highly outspoken Emi who constantly makes politically incorrect statements. And let's not forget Gabriel who is the only character told from first person point of view. Now why's that? Hmm, who knows? But let me suggest this: read the short story "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Think about it and look into Arcangel's character.Now what's the point of combining these various unique characters? Why did Yamashita choose them specifically? Each one adds a little of their culture to the big picture. What's the significance of the maps? They are a physical representation of what humans have created. If you travel to the border of any region, is there a real line that marks the border? No. So what do you think Yamashita is trying to say?Now I apologize if I've said too much and you still haven't read the book, but if you have and this helped you, I'm glad. If you haven't read it and this review got you stoked to read the book, great! If you understand everything I've written, but you're still trying to really make sense of the book. Well, then good luck!