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Days of Distraction

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  104 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A wry, tender portrait of a young womanfinally free to decide her own path, but unsure if she knows herself well enough to choose wiselyfrom a captivating new literary voice

The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even whyshe doesnt know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 31st 2020 by HarperCollins
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  • Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
    Days of Distraction
    Release date: Mar 31, 2020
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    The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and

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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.44  · 
    Rating details
     ·  104 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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    Jessica Woodbury
    Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: arc, authors-of-color
    Some books are plotty and others can meander through a life, soft and spare. This is one of the latter and it's a genre I get very picky about. There has to be some grand design to it, some purpose, some theme, some character that makes it all feel worthwhile and Chang delivers. Her protagonist--a millennial, a tech writer, a child of Chinese immigrants--doesn't just accept her circumstances, but change can feel impossible. (Her repeated requests for a raise at her job where she is not even a ...more
    Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    New adult literary fiction about smug tech culture????

    The Artisan Geek

    Days of Distraction - what a stellar debut novel! The story follows a Chinese-American who as a fairly recent graduate works as a technology reporter in Silicon Valley. We get to watch as she deals with all of the crap that comes with the job: office politics, racism, misogyny etc. Then when her boyfriend J gets offered a PhD position in a remote town in upstate New York, she decides to pack her bags and join him. As time progresses she explores her identity, reflected on the past of those
    Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    What a funny, energetic, and insightful read. This is the relationship novel for our alienated age. Chang shows us a young Chinese American woman who, as she leaves behind her tech-reporter job in San Francisco for unknowns in upstate New York, struggles to define herself as an individual to her white boyfriend, to her co-workers, to her family, to herself, and must decide what is worth loving at a time when nothing feels real. Id recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book that feels very ...more
    Mary Ryan
    Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I give Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang my highest recommendation. This book explores topics of race, work, love, and family as experienced by young people today. It is funny and thoughtful and thought provoking. It would make a great book club selection as it is a perfect conversational base for so many important topics of our time. Its a compelling read, I devoured it in one big gulp. ...more
    Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: arcs
    The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.

    3,75 stars

    I quite liked this book, especially the first part of it that is set in San-Francisco. The writing was good, I even highlighted some nice quotes and sayings. But after some time, the main character started to grate on my nerves a lot, I understood her concerns and struggles or at least tried to, but she was being such a negative Nancy and at some point, I didn't
    Scott Alumbaugh
    Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This is really a wonderful book. I would say it is a quiet book, but thats true only on the surface. Nothing big happens: there are no deaths, no global disasters, no terminal diseases. But under the surface of the relatively mundane plot, we get to experience the main characters richly complex internal and interpersonal relationships, as well as the external forces operating on both.

    In this context, Ms. Changs strength is using straightforward prose to convey this turmoil. She doesnt try to
    Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Such a graceful, stylish & totally absorbing novel. It worked on me so quickly that I hardly realized I was inhaling the book, as though the struggles brought up here of disillusionment, freedom, self-possession, loneliness had become as intoxicating to take in as a drug. Ostensibly about a young Chinese-American woman moving cross country along with her white boyfriend (who is entering a PhD program) the book quickly develops into a witty deliberation on the negotiation of political context ...more
    Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    What a lovely novel! The two aspects that really drew me into this book was the narrator and the style. First, the narrator. I kinda love her. She feels very real, very knowing of herself in the world, but not knowing exactly what she wants to do with herself in the world. A more dismissive review will call her a very millennial character, but thats not it for me. Shes very much a mid-20s young woman who is trying to fully understand herself, her relationships, and her family while in the midst ...more
    Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Days of Distraction follows the life of a young woman as she deals with the struggles of work, friends, and family. It explores the uncertainties and insecurities of adulthood and highlights what it means to be an Asian American woman in today's world. Melancholic and beautiful, the book finds a depth of emotion in the everyday that is not easily forgotten.
    Mar 10, 2020 marked it as to-read
    Shelves: 2020-releases
    March 10, 2020:

    ✔ a perfect blend of humour and sincerity
    ✔ complexities of the Asian-American life as seen today
    ✔ observations on race, technology, and relationships
    ✔ highly acclaimed debut novel

    Mentioned on the blog: Fanticipating Reads of March 2020 | Five Under-Hyped Diverse Books To Look Out For This Month
    Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: to-review
    I really enjoyed this debut novel! It had some great commentary on race as it follows an Asian American woman tech writer. There was a huge focus on interracial relationships which I found very interesting and not discussed enough in literary fiction. At times the writing felt choppy because of the insertion of article clippings and research the protagonist was doing. I still highly recommend this book for anyone who is into slow literary fiction books with themes of family, love and ...more
    C Zhang
    Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Searching, wise, honest, beautiful. A novel that lingers, with characters that feel so whole.
    Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
    A new literary generation

    Alexandra Chang is from Northern California, grew up in San Francisco, Shanghai and Davis, and currently lives in Ithaca, upstate New York. She graduated from UC Berkeley and received her MFA from Syracuse University in 2018. Before she started writing fiction she worked as a staff writer for Cornell University, WIRED and Macworld, where she covered technology, science and research. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, LARB Quarterly Journal,
    Kaycee Miller
    Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Reading Days of Distraction made me feel like I was chatting with an old friend over coffee or wine. The kind of conversation that moves from fun to serious and back again, and is deep, emotional, and light over the course of the night. Chang's story goes from gossiping about coworkers and relationships to sharing personal feelings about partners and thoughts on social issues and experiences.

    There's a lot I found relatable - remembering that time in my 20s when I was in a job didn't love and
    Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    What an impressive debut novel! This story follows a Chinese-American millennial, recently graduated and working in technology reporting in the Silicon Valley. Her boyfriend gets an offer to transfer to upstate New York and she sees the move as an opportunity to run away. As the story progresses we get to see her explore her identity, and her past.

    Chang blew me away with her writing. It was funny and insightful. She explores big themes of race, family, love and work. Highly recommended!
    Maxine Chung
    Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Wendy Chen
    Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    An absolutely gorgeous mediation on experiencing life, love, family, and history as an Asian American woman. Each passage is so perfectly and beautifully crafted - many would not be out of place as prose poems on their own. DAYS OF DISTRACTION questions and examines so many, often painful, facets of society, race, gender, and the self. What does it mean to be in an interracial relationship? What does love look like in a family? How can we pave the way forward for ourselves and others? Chang ...more
    Caitlin Hayes
    Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    One of the many achievements of Days of Distraction is how easy it is to become invested in the everyday decisions, struggles, and ruminations of the narrator...Chang doesn't rely on big or sensational plot hooks but earns the interest of her reader with the more high-wire and sophisticated skills of keen observation, wit, warmth, and a structure that keeps surprising you. The result for me was an addictive and intimate read that explored how we can be both of our histories and different from ...more
    Marion Franck
    Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This is a novel that feels real. The protagonist and several people in her life are believable and intriguing. The book also includes information about the Chinese in America that was interesting to me, even though I am not Chinese-American.

    I almost can't believe this is Chang's first novel because her language is superb. Her sentences are so well-crafted that every word feels right.

    I also liked learning more about the perspective of a Millennial, especially a woman looking for satisfying work
    Elena L.
    Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
    [4,5/5 stars]

    DAYS OF DISTRACTION by Alexandra Chang revolves around a Chinese-American who works as a technology reporter in San Francisco. When her boyfriend J decides to move to Ithaca for grad school, she follows him.

    I enjoyed a lot reading this book as Chang captures serious themes with a pinch of humor. Through witty writing style, there's a subtle criticism about current society, mainly regarding their attitude towards Asian-American, which the protagonist is under-appreciated in her
    Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
    It is difficult to parse which parts of me come from my family, from being Chinese, from being Asian American, from being American, from being a woman, from being of a certain generation, and from, simply, being.

    I liked this book a bit, but didnt love it. Its contemporary. Alexandra Changs Days of Distraction felt just like that to me - I felt distracted. I didnt quite know if I was reading about JJs life or if it was just mere fragments or memories of it. I suppose that was the authors
    Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
    A beautiful, slow book about race, millennial/tech careers, and relationships in your 20s; I loved reading DAYS OF DISTRACTION. The narrator is a woman who follows her boyfriend across the country, from San Francisco to Ithaca, because of his PhD program. She is a tech writer in 2013, a career which is unpredictable and filled with bad management and unfavorable colleagues. She is Asian American, and coming to gripes with her interracial relationship with her white boyfriend all at the same ...more
    Lisa Calc
    The writing was ok, very clear, the best parts for me were the paragraphs showing microaggressions and flat-out racism that women of color go through in the U.S., in this case a Chinese-American woman. I also saw themes reminiscent to other Asian American authors thinking, what would life be if my family hadn't moved from [x country].

    However for its majority this book is about whether this woman should stay with her white boyfriend of nine years or not, and her documenting all the things she as
    Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2020
    This novel spoke to me on several personal levels, as I know it will with many in my generation as well as many with a dual heritage such as the narrator's. The pace parallels the plot's level of activity; quick for her San Francisco jaunts, meandering for a cross-country road trip, and a bit lethargic for her small town transition. Never boring, though. The humor is keyed in perfectly and the characters are vibrant against whatever background they happen to be set against. I was always invested ...more
    Kathleen Gray
    Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
    This is a well written novel about a young woman struggling with herself. She's not happy with her job, her boyfriend J has been accepted to Cornell, and her family is on two continents. Her issues with her father are a theme throughout- he's a fascinating character. Ithaca is vastly different from San Francisco and she finds herself in the house, doing a job she doesn't enjoy so that she can make money to visit her father in China, and feeling very much the odd woman out among the local ...more
    Nora E
    Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Could this really be her first book? Excellent job of weaving stories from current day to the past. It read like I was being told a story in person. The honest and sometimes raw emotions expressed made me want to reach out and protect this girl/woman from subtle and overt racist behaviors. Being in a mixed race relationship, I could easily relate to the stares and comments from strangers as well as colleagues, both real and imagined. Having young adult children educated and working in the Bay ...more
    Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I absolutely loved this novel. From the beginning, the story and its protagonist gripped my attention and never let go, and they stayed with me long after I finished reading.

    By turns funny and poignant, the writing has the self-assurance and clarity of a much more experienced author. I would count Chang as one of a short roster of brilliant young writers who have captured what it's like to try to find your way in the world, at this age, as part of this particular generation: unsure of the
    Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2020, arc
    What an interestingly structured novel, especially in the way it self-consciously blends fiction and nonfiction. It does that kind of "diary-but-not" thing where you are completely immersed in a narrator's mind. The present tense is disarming but particularly effective, I think because it's weighted by the fact that the reader knows it's being "written," in a narrative sense, and even if only briefly, after the fact. I love this mode? It allows for really compelling juxtapositions of humor and ...more
    Vt Hung
    Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Days of Distraction will be one of the most important books of our generation so go out and get it now.

    I finished Alexandra Chang's debut novel in one sitting and needed desperately to discuss it with someone, so I can't wait for other readers to discover her work. The voice, insight, and sensitivity of Days of Distraction made me laugh and cry, and I found myself thinking more deeply about love, inheritances, and cross-cultural relationships.

    If you love Sheila Heti, Sigrid Nunez, and Valeria
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    Alexandra Chang is from Northern California. She currently lives in upstate New York with her husband and their dog and cat.

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