The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger
A Novel

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Synopsis

From the PEN/Malamud Award-winning author of Lucky Girls comes an intricately woven novel about secrets, love, art, identity, and the shining chaos of every day American life.

Yuan Zhao, a celebrated Chinese performance artist and political dissident, has accepted a one-year artist's residency in Los Angeles. He is to be a Visiting Scholar at the St. Anselm's School for Girls, teaching advanced art, and hosted by one of the school's most devoted families: the wealthy if dysfunctional Traverses. The Traverses are too preoccupied with their own problems to pay their foreign guest too much attention, and the dissident is delighted to be left alone—his past links with radical movements give him good reason to avoid careful scrutiny. The trouble starts when he and his American hosts begin to view one another with clearer eyes.

 

About Nell Freudenberger

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Nell Freudenberger is the author of the novel The Dissident and the story collection Lucky Girls, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; both books were New York Times Book Review Notables. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship from the New York Public Library, she was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40." She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 448 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Dissident

Kirkus Reviews

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The complex interrelations of these variously beautiful, privileged people form a fascinating counterpoint to the moving story of Yuan Zhao’s embattled apprenticeship and largely wasted life (for, despite the respect of people who believe his existence more meaningful than their own, he struggles...

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The New York Times

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The collision of cultures is a venerable theme in fiction — without it there would be no “Passage to India,” no “Lolita,” almost no Henry James — but the drama of such stories always depends on certain important commonalities, on the discovery of shared impulses and modes of behavior that seem to...

Sep 10 2006 | Read Full Review of The Dissident: A Novel

The Guardian

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The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger Picador £14.99, pp432 Rong Rong's 1994 photo 'East Village, Beijing, No 34' depicts artist Zhang Huan hanging by chains from the ceiling of his studio while blood drips from his neck on to a hot plate, producing an awful hiss and stench.

Apr 29 2007 | Read Full Review of The Dissident: A Novel

The Guardian

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The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger 427pp, Picador, £14.99 In the early 1990s the Chinese performance artist Zang Huan slathered himself with fish sauce and sat in a Beijing public toilet in broiling heat.

Mar 17 2007 | Read Full Review of The Dissident: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Originally posted Aug 11, 2006 Published in issue #891-892 Aug 18, 2006 Order article reprints

Aug 11 2006 | Read Full Review of The Dissident: A Novel

USA Today

In The Dissident, Nell Freudenberger traverses two worlds separated by a long distance, and not just geographically.Drawing, presumably, on her experience teaching English and volunteering for human rights groups in Asia, the 31-year-old author of the acclaimed story collection Lucky Girls presen...

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London Review of Books

His cousin, an artist who introduced him to the East Village, is encouraging: ‘An artist is an artist, no matter what he’s doing,’ he tells Yuan.

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New York Magazine

Five years ago, the Harvard grad was a New Yorker editorial assistant, until former fiction editor Bill Buford ran her story “Lucky Girls,” the “one story that I thought was worth showing to anyone in my life,” in the Summer Fiction issue, alongside a glamour shot of Freudenberger lounging on red...

Aug 27 2006 | Read Full Review of The Dissident: A Novel

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