A searing debut novel that explores community, identity, and the myth of the American dream through an immigrant family in Alaska
One of Esquire’s 25 Most Anticipated Books of 2019
One of Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019
A selection by The Rumpus for What to Read in 2019
The Unpassing follows an immigrant family of six struggling to make ends meet on the outskirts of Anchorage, Alaska. The father, hardworking but beaten down, is employed as a plumber and repairman, while the mother, a loving, strong-willed, and unpredictably emotional matriarch, holds the house together. When ten-year-old Gavin contracts meningitis at school, he falls into a deep, nearly fatal coma. He wakes up a week later to learn that his little sister Ruby was infected, too. She did not survive.
With flowing prose that evokes the terrifying beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, Lin explores the fallout after the loss of a child and the way in which a family is forced to grieve in a place that doesn’t yet feel like home. Emotionally raw and subtly suspenseful, The Unpassing is a deeply felt family saga that dismisses the American dream for a harsher, but ultimately more profound, reality.
“In this spare, deeply felt debut novel, Lin resists received wisdom about the American dream to craft a family saga about the difficulty of grieving far from home.” — Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
“[A] devastating portrait of a family waking up from the American dream … The Unpassing is a moving story about grief, guilt, growing apart, and finding home.” — Lit Hub
“Chia-Chia Lin’s The Unpassing is a searing, open wound of a book, marvelously alive and, quite simply, remarkable. Traversing the oftentimes brutal frontier of an isolated family living in an isolated environment, I can’t think of another novel as of late that relentlessly tackles headlong our deepest struggles for a sense of place, of home, and belonging … This is a story for our times. And a story unlike any other.” — Paul Yoon, author of The Mountain
“Chia-Chia Lin has written a novel of such strange, brittle beauty as to resemble nothing else so much as living, itself. Her prose—at once poetic and lucid, by turns darkly comic and haunting—achieves something like the peculiar grammar of loss. I turned the last page with heartache and wonder, a feeling of having been undone and remade." — D. Wystan Owen, author of Other People's Love Affairs