A few months back, when the New Yorker and countless literary blogs were wringing their hands about the top 20 authors under 40 and debating at what precise age a writer peaks, Angela S. Choi was putting the finishing touches on her debut novel, Hello Kitty Must Die, demonstrating why such debates are little more than internecine squabbles in the literary hothouse. She was a miserable up-and-coming lawyer in a typically cutthroat law firm who decided to throw it all away at the age of 30 Yale law degree and all and pursue a writing career, to the chagrin of her friends, family and professional contacts. A year later, Choi has emerged with Hello Kitty Must Die, an assured debut which explores the semi-autobiographical tale of a young Asian-American woman from a traditional family who eludes her parents attempts to arrange a marriage and learns to assert her own identity. Indulging in verboten acts and carnal excess, Chois protagonist navigates the citys dark side whether represented by alleyways or 30th-floor law offices while attempting to reconcile her traditional upbringing and her native-born American identity. Chois novel is blunt and direct, with breathless prose that matches the accelerating speed of the narrative. Its a promising debut for an author who demonstrates that you dont need to be a member of the MFA writing program fraternity to be an author under 40 to watch.
Thu., Aug. 19, 6 p.m., 2010