Tales of the City

Published July 19, 2017

In her debut short-story collection, Sour Heart, Jenny Zhang explores what it’s like to be a young woman in New York City. It makes sense, then, that this is the first offering from Lenny, Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s imprint at Penguin Random House. But what sets Zhang’s deliciously straightforward style apart is that each of her seven first-person narrators is, like the author herself, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. At times darkly comic, but never lacking in empathy or affection, Zhang’s writing explores issues of class, language, identity, and emerging sexuality. As one of her characters, a middle-school outcast in constant conversation with God, recounts, “I worried about how I was seen, who I was seen with, and what kind of abysmal creature other people thought I was …” Zhang’s incisive rendering of lonely women-in-progress is an intimate, affecting, and altogether unputdownable meditation on the messy business of girlhood.