The Afterlife of Emerson Tang by Paula Champa

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A beloved car becomes a piece of us—a way back into our histories or forward into our destinies. For Emerson Tang, the only son of a prominent New England family, that car is a 1954 Beacon. A collector—of art and experience—Emerson keeps his prized possession safely stored away. But when his health begins to fail, his archivist and caretaker is approached by a secretive French painter determined to buy the Beacon at any cost. They discover that the Beacon has been compromised and that its importance reaches far beyond Emerson’s own history.

Soon they run into another who shares their obsession: the heir to the ruined Beacon Motor Company, who is determined to restore his grandfather’s legacy. These four become unlikely adventurers, united in their aim to reunite the Beacon’s original body and engine, pitted against one another in their quest to claim it. Each new clue takes one closer to triumph, but also takes these characters, each grieving a deep loss, toward finding missing pieces of their own lives.

A fast-paced ride through the twentieth century—to modernism, fascism, and industrialism, to Manhattan, a German zeppelin, a famed concours in Pebble Beach, and a road race in Italy—The Afterlife of Emerson Tang takes us deep into our complicated automotive romance. A novel of strangers connected across time, through a car that is so much more than a car, it asks us what should be preserved, what memories to trust, and whether or not some of the legacies we hold most dear—including that grand contraption, the automobile—can be made new again.

About Paula Champa

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Paula Champa writes on design and the arts and has contributed to magazines including Surface, Intersection, American Artist, Print, and I.D. Over the past decade, she has reported on car culture and the emergence of sustainable transportation. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she was educated at Boston College and the University of Pennsylvania, and holds a master's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary journals and in the anthology The Way We Work. The Afterlife of Emerson Tang is her first novel.
Published March 12, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 339 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Money can’t buy happiness, but can it buy aesthetic satisfaction, or restore a shattered past? Automobile journalist Champa’s first novel places a 1953 Beacon, a fictional classic car, at the center o

Feb 11 2013 | Read Full Review of The Afterlife of Emerson Tang

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