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Tropic of Orange Paperback – September 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-1566890649 ISBN-10: 1566890640 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press; First Edition edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566890640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566890649
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


“Fiercely satirical. . . . Yamashita presents [an] intricate plot with mordant wit.” —New York Times Book Review

“A stunner.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Brilliant. . . . An ingenious interpretation of social woes.” —Booklist (starred review)

“David Foster Wallace meets Gabriel García Márquez.” —Publishers Weekly

“Yamashita’s fast-paced and bittersweet tale ties together all classes, races and nationalities in a cosmic vision that is both well-written and entertaining.” —Counterpoise

About the Author

Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, Brazil-Maru, Circle K Cycles, I Hotel, and Anime Wong, all published by Coffee House Press. I Hotel was selected as a finalist for the National Book Award and awarded the California Book Award, the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award, and the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award. She has been a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellow and is currently Professor of Literature and Creative Writing and the co-holder of the University of California Presidential Chair for Feminist & Critical Race & Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

More About the Author

Heralded as a "big talent" by the Los Angeles Times, extolled by the New York Times for her "mordant wit," and praised by Newsday for "wrestl[ing] with profound philosophical and social issues" while delivering an "immensely entertaining story," Karen Tei Yamashita is one of the foremost writers of her generation. I Hotel, which took over a decade to write and research, is her magnum opus.

The author of four previous novels, Yamashita is the recipient of an American Book Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Award. A California native who has also lived in Brazil and Japan, she teaches at the University of California-Santa Cruz, where she received the Chancellor's Award for Diversity in 2009.

Customer Reviews

I tried really hard to like this book.
A. Huddleston
Definitely the best book about LA in the last ten years.
L. Anderson
It's a rich, complex, and compelling story.
Omega

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By C. Martinez on December 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
I wrote my senior thesis on this book at UC Berkeley. The complexities of multiculturalism, borders and the constant movement of today are on display here. It also reminded me of the movie "Crash" but with more depth to the cast of characters. One line from the book sticks with me and appears in my thoughts from time to time: "...progress and other things in which they foolishly believed..." This concept of the "myth of progress" is a central theme of this novel, as it demonstrates how even though we're making strides in so many ways (technology, connecting across borders, knowledge/information), we're digressing in other ways (morals, human contact, wisdom). Although I loathed it while trying to articulate a thesis from it, I now look back with fondness and upon rereading it, have come to appreciate its depth.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Huddleston on May 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I tried really hard to like this book. The topics addressed and style of writing should have been right up my alley. However, I found it to be without a doubt the dullest assigned reading of my college career, surpassed only by a statistics textbook. The plot as a whole sounds cartoonish, perfect (and not in a good way) for an over the top steroid-filled action movie. Oranges injected with heroine? Two trucks filled with different flammable fuels creating a diabolical fireball on the Los Angeles highway? A Mexican infant organ black market ring? If this is supposed to be satire, it failed horribly in delivery since the text also includes surreal scenes such as the shape-shifting fight and rape of Rafaela and the organ-stealer and pretty much any chapter with Arcangel.

To her credit, Yamashita isn't a bad writer. Her descriptions are lovely and the buildup comes at a good pace. But I feel as though she tried too hard in this novel and ended up missing her point altogether. The ending especially feels as though she was trying for a big finish and came up short.

But please take this review with a grain of salt. As you can see in the list of reviews, there were indeed people who enjoyed this book and it is worth reading, if only so you can say decisively that you don't like it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. Anderson on March 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Brilliant and beautiful! Definitely the best book about LA in the last ten years. Not your typical wannabe Hollywood drama or wild drug haze. This is the real Los Angeles. The structure is unlike anything I have ever seen in a book before. You can read it straight through, or follow the Hypertext and follow each of the seven characters through their own experience. The plot is simply extraordinary, with touches of magical realism and noir fiction; an orange growing directly on the Tropic of Cancer makes its way north, completely distrubpting everywhere between it and Los Angeles. Between the lines of the story is the complexities of culture and stereotypes in LA and the fragility of the town itself. Everyone should read this book!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
Yamashita's book is an interesting study of the effects of technology on human interaction and emotion. She uses recent history to form her opinion: NAFTA is portrayed in a bad light as destroying tradition and spreading American materialism, and the Rodney King case makes the freeway assault seem not so much like fiction. The book is an easy read with a lot of thought-provoking symbolism, and it is also very pessimistic about 90's American culture. If it is seen purely as a worst-case scenario of the future of America, it is very effective. John Alexander Stiner
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Yamashita's book is just short of a tour de force. It's engrossing, jauntily satirical and multicultural to a fault. I agree with the other reviews that find it a direct indictment of materialism as well, but I was more intrigued by her apocalyptic vision for LA. The city of angels has always been a focal point for artists, and many think its time of burnout will come. Yamashita thinks that the destructive impulse will come from within and from nearby borders, and that makes this book even more fascinating as a possible scenario for the end of LA as we know it. Why hasn't this become a movie, or even a movie of the week? The fever pitch she manages to end chapters with at times would directly translate to the large or small screen. Maybe the Hollywood vultures haven't found her yet. It's only a matter of time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Omega on October 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Tropic of Orange: The novel whisked me away to Los Angeles, Mexico, and San Diego. I jumped from place to place, traveling with an assortment of friends--black, white, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican--all good friends. Their flaws were glorious, their insanities loveable, their lives unforgettable. When they hurt, I cried. When they fought, I championed their battle, and when they vanished--the last page read--I returned to reality, unsettled and disoriented, requiring hours to regain my bearings.

It's a rich, complex, and compelling story. It has a mixture of characters, a variety of locations, and a constantly shifting point of view--sometimes shifting on the same page. Physical and metaphysical, the story is reality-grounded with an ethereal thread knotting the characters together.

But unlike other books, Tropic of Orange demands undivided attention. No skimming, no daydreaming, no hoping to get the gist of it...because you won't. If your focus strays, your mind wanders, or your eyes move ahead of your brain, glazing down the page without gleaning any meaning, then expect to be lost. "Wait. Who's talking? Where are we? What's going on?"

For those with steadfast attention, the novel returns a profound, enveloping reward; a whirlwind trip with friends to southern California and Mexico.
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