An apprentice sushi chef and a mysterious blue-eyed woman share a bottle of wine inside a climate-controlled otter tank. The Great Wall of China grumbles as workers forego construction to watch an imperial game of baseball. A young woman tries to imagine a future unsullied by her family’s history of untimely death.
First issued in 1991, Pangs of Love introduced David Wong Louie’s bold storytelling. The son of Chinese immigrants, he centered his stories around characters who are in conflict with their place in the world, disconnected from both American society and their own families. The depth of his portrayals renders their experiences of love, envy, loneliness, loss, and duty universal—informed by their heritage yet not confined by it. These twelve short stories and one essay swerve from the absurd to longing for love, understanding, or simply a morsel of food.
Pangs of Love and Other Writings makes Louie’s debut book available again, along with an additional short story and an extraordinary autobiographical essay, “Eat, Memory,” in which he reflects on life without food after throat cancer took away his ability to swallow. Pulitzer Prize–winner Viet Thanh Nguyen contributes a foreword elucidating Louie’s role in shaping contemporary Asian American literature, while an afterword by literary scholar King-Kok Cheung retraces the three phases of Louie’s career.
About the Author
David Wong Louie (1954 - 2018) is the author of Pangs of Love and the novel The Barbarians Are Coming. His work appeared in The Best American Short Stories, 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, and The Best American Essays. He taught in the Department of English and the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA.
Table of Contents
Foreword Viet Thanh Nguyen ix
Pangs of Love
Bottles of Beaujolais 40
Social Science 61
Pangs of Love 82
Love on the Rocks 107
The Movers 129
One Man's Hysteria-Real and Imagined-in the Twentieth Century 147
Warming Trends 172
Disturbing the Universe 196
Cold Hearted 243
Eat, Memory 254
Afterword King-Kok Cheung 269
What People are Saying About This
Pangs of Love is an American classic. I return to these stories over and over again and never tire of them. They read as fresh and vibrant today as they did in 1991 when they debuted with much fanfare. These stories ring true and universal as they navigate the themes of immigrant dreams, intergenerational anxieties, troubled love and all that subtle and difficult stuff of American life. I am deeply grateful for these stories that David Louie has bestowed upon us.
Rereading Louie’s stories affirms my sense that art matters and that writing matters, and that part of the evidence for this is how his stories read now as if they were written yesterday. They remain powerful, moving, relevant, urgent, and they persist in that way because of the author’s imagination, his capacity to tell a story, his wit and humor, his willingness to confront the darkness of the world and the twilight within ourselves.