City Lights in conjunction with A Public Space present
Ada Zhang in conversation with Belinda Huijuan Tang
celebrating the publication of
The Sorrows of Others
by Ada Zhang
published by A Public Space
A virtuosic debut exploring personhood, place, loneliness, love, and home.
These ten stories about lives young and old, in China and America, in the generations after the Cultural Revolution, will captivate readers with the depth of their insights and Ada Zhang’s incisive, luminescent prose. The Sorrows of Others is a dazzling collection about people confronted with being outsiders—as immigrants, as revolutionaries, and even, often, within their own families. The stories ask what happens when we leave home, and what happens when we stay? What selves do we meet and shed in the process of becoming?
Ada Zhang is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Alaska Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She grew up in Austin, Texas, and now lives in New York City, where she is an associate editor of adult’s and children’s books at Running Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. The Sorrows of Others is her first book.
Belinda Huijuan Tang is the author of A Map for the Missing, long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She is a 2021 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow and recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. She holds a BA from Stanford University and was a 2019 work-study fellow at the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She lived in China from 2016 to 2018 and, while there, received an MA from Peking University in Beijing. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Advance Praise for The Sorrows of Others:
“The characters in The Sorrows of Others would make an uncommon and special botanical collection had they been plants: They have their given roots—Chinese or Chinese American—that bind them to their shared history, and yet they also each nurture their own set of roots, expanding, liberating, and redefining themselves. Ada Zhang is a bighearted and sensitive writer, and these stories, looking simultaneously to the past and to the future, are a triumph.”—Yiyun Li, author of The Book of Goose and Where Reasons End
“I loved The Sorrows of Others, a luminous, moving collection of stories about love and family and belonging. Ada Zhang writes across generations with a rare sense of grace and precision. She is a young writer worth watching.” —Jess Walter, author of The Angel of Rome and Beautiful Ruins
“Ada Zhang doesn’t balk at the big matters—revolution, immigration, family, love, marriage, affairs, divorce, death—but the profound mysteries you hear in her prose live between the notes you know. In these stories the little hollows at the heart of all our hopes pool with sorrow, and that sorrow weighs like a duty, as fierce and binding as love. The restraint in this collection is unlike anything in our rather noisy and obvious age. The Sorrows of Others is masterful.”—Charles D’Ambrosio, author of Loitering and The Dead Fish Museum
“Each story in The Sorrows of Others is elegantly braided and brushed with a careful hand. This debut collection resists the temptations of flash and clamor, embracing a more modulated, substantial prose that resonates richly, with a deep understanding of character and of true mystery. Prepare to be ushered into the everyday fascinations of the various lives depicted here, and prepare at each story’s end to be left wondering and aching.” —Jamel Brinkley, author of A Lucky Man
“Every once in a while, a new writer comes along whose stories are so naturally perceptive, empathetic, and intelligent that reading them feels like falling in love with the form all over again. The relationships Zhang’s characters navigate are full of quiet ardor and tangled duties; at the heart of each story is found an urgent, private world rendered with care and skill. Rare is it to encounter a young writer whose voice is so assured; rarer still is it to read one capable of such calm, humane wisdom. The Sorrows of Others announces Ada Zhang as a major literary talent, one anyone who loves reading should experience.” —Arna Bontemps Hemenway, author of Elegy on Kinderklavier
“In these marvelous stories, Ada Zhang writes with ferocity and precision about feelings and situations I have seldom seen captured in fiction before: a woman caring for the dying husband who has abandoned her, a girl glimpsing what her grandparents have endured in China. Each story offers a deeply satisfying world, one I never wanted to leave. The Sorrows of Others is a brilliant debut.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field
“These stories contain a rare and profound understanding of loneliness, in all its gestures, nuances, and variations: the loneliness of aging, of being othered, within families or in solitude, of a widower in Xi’an or a young professional in New York. Above all, Zhang has captured the essential loneliness of human interiority, the experience of being alone in one’s mind. Every story is written with grace and a light touch, scenes subtly washed with feeling as a skilled watercolorist floods a landscape with color. A wonderful debut.” —Kim Fu, author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
“The world of Ada Zhang is wise and patient in its understanding of the human soul—how tender it is, how resilient and capacious, harboring both darkness and light. In this wide-ranging collection, each story arrives carrying the treasures of entire lives lived. Zhang’s writing is transportive, timeless, and a pleasure to behold.” —Lucy Tan, author of What We Were Promised
“To read Ada Zhang’s collection The Sorrows of Others is to be in sublime relationship to human follies and to wisdom and to the silence that is cultivated between lines and after a story ends. This is a collection to savor and to reread. ” —Jai Chakrabarti, author of A Play for the End of the World
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/