Days of Distraction: A Novel
“Startlingly original and deeply moving…. Chang here establishes herself as one of the most important of the new generation of American writers.” — George Saunders
A Recommended Book FromBuzzfeed * TIME * USA Today * NPR * Vanity Fair * The Washington Post * New York Magazine * O, the Oprah Magazine * Parade * Wired * Electric Literature * The Millions * San Antonio Express-News * Domino * Kirkus
A wry, tender portrait of a young woman—finally free to decide her own path, but unsure if she knows herself well enough to choose wisely—from a captivating new literary voiceThe plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why—she doesn’t know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious tech publication, she reports on the achievements of smug Silicon Valley billionaires and start-up bros while her own request for a raise gets bumped from manager to manager. And when her longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to a quiet upstate New York town for grad school, she sees an excuse to cut and run.
Moving is supposed to be a grand gesture of her commitment to J and a way to reshape her sense of self. But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?
Equal parts tender and humorous, and told in spare but powerful prose, Days of Distraction is an offbeat coming-of-adulthood tale, a touching family story, and a razor-sharp appraisal of our times.
“Quietly funny and thunderingly wise…. What matters here is Chang’s honest, unconventional storytelling…. [A] winning novel from a writer to watch.” —
New York Times Book Review
“Alexandra Chang’s debut “Days of Distraction” brims with the predicaments of our current moment….. With echoes of Jenny Offill’s similarly titled “Dept. of Speculation,” [Days of Distraction] both reflects and caters to our distracted age…. But for all its formal interplay and textual shifts, the novel is also, somehow, a cohesive, thoroughly absorbing read…. By creating such a smart, thoughtful, funny, observant narrator, and taking us on a familiar arc of leaving home, contending with new surroundings, reconnecting with the past and negotiating a crossroads, Chang achieves the opposite effect of distraction culture…. An immersive, emotionally honest novel.” —
“Gripping…. Pointed, witty, and free of easy resolutions. And Chang’s deadpan style offers up moments of absurd humor…. Chang shows the challenge of trying to raise issues about racism that even those closest to her wish to avoid. Struggling to spark a conversation nobody wants to have, she conducts an engrossing one with herself.” —
“A sharp, wise and truly contemporary debut novel.” —
transmutes millennial malaise into an astute meditation on identity in the age of algorithms with this deadpan novel of an Asian American journalist fighting to be truly seen—by both her employer and her white boyfriend.” — O, the Oprah Magazine
Days of Distraction is a novel that puts political issues in individual terms. In a cultural moment of forced self-analysis and rising anti-Asian racism, it’s not just resonant but also timely.” — The Atlantic
“A strikingly quiet, tender book that simultaneously traces the many big questions — in Chang’s words, the ‘precarity of young adulthood, dynamics of being in an interracial relationship,’ the insidious forces of capitalism, racism and sexism — shadowing the protagonist’s struggle to find her place in the world…. Remarkable.” —
San Francisco Chronicle
“[Chang’s prose] flows so gracefully across themes of millennial ennui, capitalist disillusionment, immigration, love, and sacrifice.” — Buzzfe