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Crossing Paperback – April 27, 2010
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Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Andrew Fukuda
Question: Crossing is the story of Xing Xu, a Chinese teenager growing up in a small town in upstate New York. Xing is a loner who doesn’t fit in at school and when a rash of disappearances rattle the town, suspicion is immediately cast in his direction. Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
Andrew Fukuda: I worked for a few years with immigrant teens in Manhattan's Chinatown. What really struck me was how acutely they felt isolated from society at large. Shoved out of the way, really. And they shared a real disenchantment with America. One Sunday, a group of us--we were traveling in upstate New York--decided to attend church. It turned out to be an all-white church and I still remember the cold looks of suspicion and icy stares cast our way throughout the service. Just because we were Chinese, just because we looked different. Those cold stares haunted me for a long time afterward. It got me thinking: what if an immigrant teen had to grow up all alone in this kind of community? And what if something terribly, mysteriously awful started to happen in that community?
The 2007 Virginia Tech massacre at the hands of Seung-Hui Cho added urgency to my writing. I feel that Asian American males have often been dealt an unfair hand by the media, and I was afraid of a backlash, afraid that we might get typecast as raging, hate-filled, gun-toting campus killers. For weeks after, I attacked the manuscript with renewed fervor and purpose, determined to add more dimensionality to Xing's character. Realistic complexity and nuance in characters, after all, kill stereotypes.
Question: In what way is Crossing different from the typical immigrant novel?
Andrew Fukuda: I wanted to depart from what we usually see in immigrant novels: instead of cloying and clichéd scenes of family meals, flowery mother-daughter relationships, and cathartic returns to the motherland, I wanted to layer questions of identity and ethnicity over a thriller plotline. In Crossing, this immigrant theme is propelled forward by the suspense generated in the ever-deepening mystery of the disappearances. This fusion of themes was a blend of my background: as an Asian American I was able to add depth to the ethnic theme; as a criminal prosecutor, I was able to develop nuances in the mystery aspect of the novel.
Question: Did you read much while growing up? Which writers capture your attention and imagination?
Andrew Fukuda: My parents--both university professors--encouraged me and my two brothers to read early on. Books lay everywhere at home. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I became a voracious reader. I was especially drawn to stories dealing with displacement, where characters suddenly find themselves in an alien environment with all previous reference points and cultural markers gone. Early on, that meant reading a lot of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov. Now it means more Kazuo Ishiguro, Paul Yoon, and, of course, Jhumpa Lahiri. Reading (and rereading) her works is like a religious experience for me.
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The writing is beguiling. Xing Xu is one of only two Chinese students in a local all white high school. To say his life has been a bit tragic is probably an understatement. Xing and his parents immigrated to the USA illegally. His father, an artist, hawks his skills to tourists in the big city. After one such trip to the city Xing's father is killed. His mother ends up taking two jobs to make ends meet and falls into deep depression over her husbands death. Xing and his mom live in the same house but interact in a wooden and lifeless way merely exchanging casual greetings and non heartfelt appearing platitudes. To assist with money they take in boarders and their latest is an older lady who doesn't leave the house much. She and Xing develop an interesting nearly familial relationship as he entrusts her with his feelings.
At school Xing lives for the moments he spends with his friend Naomi Lee. Naomi is also a transplant from China. It would appear Naomi is bound for greatness - a superb intellect and porcelain beauty, Xing dreads the day she realizes her gifts and goes off with someone else. In spite of his best efforts to convince himself otherwise his love is unrequited.Read more ›
I really loved some of Fukuda's descriptions of Xing's surroundings. The absolutely gorgeous cover art perfectly illustrates the atmosphere of this book--the quiet, melancholy COLD of it, and that's what initially attracted me to it. There's some real beauty here.
There's also some real ugliness, and I guess that is what I had trouble with. Somehow a lot of it ended up feeling...unbelievable, or too convenient, or...just too extreme. It brought me out of the story several times, thinking, "Wait...what? Really?" And I never really figured out certain characters' motivations.
And Xing himself...mostly I could relate to the things he thought and felt. Some of his actions made me dislike him a little, but they felt realistic to me at the same time. But every now and then something he would say would just seem...very out of character, and, again, brought me out of the story. The way he reacts to people always seems to be the way most likely to get him in trouble, but he's not consistent. In one instance he might be belligereant or antagonistic, almost cocky; in another, it's like he's paralyzed with fear and can't make himself speak at all. I felt like I never really got a good handle on who he is, because he never seemed fully formed somehow.
That said, I like the story Fukuda tells here, about a boy caught within a prison of circumstance, personal tragedy and low self-esteem. And I felt the ending fit. It's a very short book though, and I guess I wish maybe there was a little more to it--not that it needs more words, but maybe just better words in places.
It's definitely a haunting story though, and one that will stick with me.
This novel was so well written and original. The teenage angst was delivered skillfully and the author captures so many powerful emotions: terror, joy and acceptance, humiliation, resignation, and anger. I don't want to expound too much on the plot because I want other readers to be as surprised as I was. Like I said, I hope Crossing receives the praise it is worthy of.
This book goes beyond the mystery plot, however, to paint a painful but accurate portrait of the tribulations of high school life for an immigrant boy. It tackles loneliness, stereotyping, racial profiling, first loves, petty cliques and more -- in well-written, sensitive prose that kept me enthralled to the very last page. This is not your do-gooder "Murder She Wrote" style novel, nor is it a hardcore police drama. It's a serious, sensitive story with an ending that will haunt you long after you finish it. I know it did me. Ten Stars!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very unexpected find. The story presents itself slowly and calmly. The ending is definitely not as I'd expected.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
The ending was most disappointing. I would not recommend reading it. It started well, but it jumped a lot ruining the plot.Published 4 months ago by kanan hamzeh
Written from an early high school POV, we see the unspoken prejudices of introverted minorities. This coming of age story has great life lessons in addition to a realistic... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Tammy
This was an unexpected mystery which tells a lot about the damage discrimination plays in our society. It was well written and flowed evenly. Read morePublished 9 months ago by lilysmom
It was okay, but I think more of a young person's book. Wasn't really my cup of tea.Published 11 months ago by suebedoo
A very tragic story of a geeky, Asian, adolescent trying to fit into an American small town High school. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Claire
This book is really about the experience of being caught between two cultures. Interesting to read but ends rather inconclusively.Published 13 months ago by Cognitive Scientist