American Woman by Susan Choi
A Novel

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Susan Choi's first novel, The Foreign Student, was published to remarkable critical acclaim. The New Yorker called it "an auspicious debut," and the Los Angeles Times touted it as "a novel of extraordinary sensibility and transforming strangeness," naming it one of the ten best books of the year. American Woman, this gifted writer's second book, is a novel of even greater scope and dramatic complexity, about a young Japanese-American radical caught in the militant underground of the mid-1970s.

When 25-year-old Jenny Shimada steps out of the Rhinecliff train station in New York's Hudson Valley, the last person she expects to see is Rob Frazer, a shadowy figure from her previous life. On the lam for an act of violence against the American government, Jenny agrees to take on the job of caring for three younger fugitives whom Frazer has spirited out of California. One of them, the granddaughter of a wealthy newspaper magnate in San Francisco, has become a national celebrity. Kidnapped by a homegrown revolutionary group, Pauline shocked America when she embraced her captors' ideology, denouncing family and class to enlist in their radical cell.

American Woman unfolds the story of Jenny and her charges -- Pauline, Juan, and Yvonne, the remains of the busted revolutionary cadre -- as they pursue their destinies from an old farmhouse in upstate New York back to California. Provocative, suspenseful, and often wickedly comic, the novel explores the psychology of the young radicals -- outsiders all -- as isolation and paranoia inevitably undermine their ideals. American Woman is a tour de force with chilling resonance for readers today.


About Susan Choi

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Susan Choi was born in Indiana and grew up in Texas. Her first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Discover Great New Writers Award at Barnes & Noble. With David Remnick, she edited an anthology of fiction entitled Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Published August 19, 2003 by HarperCollins. 384 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for American Woman

Publishers Weekly

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Instead of focusing on Patty (here named Pauline, the daughter of a wealthy newspaper publisher), Choi turns her attention on Jenny Shimada, a young Japanese-American woman, who, fleeing the Feds after she and her boyfriend orchestrate the bombing of draft offices to protest the Vietnam War, agre...

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AV Club

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The would-be revolutionaries in American Woman, Susan Choi's elegant re-imagining of the murky aftermath of the Patty Hearst kidnapping saga, are defined by their fractured incompleteness.

Dec 15 2003 | Read Full Review of American Woman: A Novel

Palatine Public Library

Inspired by the kidnapping of Patty Hearst in the late 1970s, American Woman is a complex novel about American identity.

Nov 14 2012 | Read Full Review of American Woman: A Novel

Live Journal

Asian American Literature Fans Recent Entries Archive Friends User Info Asian American Literature Fans A Veritable Literary Feast ...

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Live Journal

American Woman is the only novel of Choi’s that I haven’t discussed in any form on Asian American literature fans.

Nov 13 2011 | Read Full Review of American Woman: A Novel

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