cover image My Nemesis

My Nemesis

Charmaine Craig. Grove, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8021-6071-3

Craig (Miss Burma) offers a swift and cutting examination of a rivalry between two women. Two middle-aged married couples meet for dinner in Los Angeles. On one side of the table is Wah, a mixed-race Asian woman who published a book about Htet, the 15-year-old Burmese girl she adopted with Charlie, her husband of 20 years. On the other is Tessa, a successful white memoirist from New York in her second marriage to Milton, who sees Wah as dependent and insecure and, believing herself to be a feminist, tells Wah she’s “an insult to womankind.” Tessa finds Charlie, on the other hand, intellectually and emotionally attractive, and later gets him to confide that he’d struggled to support Wah’s decision to adopt Htet. Milton also enjoys Charlie’s company, though Tessa’s flirtation with Charlie exposes the cracks in her marriage. Later, the three discuss a failed film adaptation of Wah’s book, which was scrapped after the studio couldn’t find a South Asian woman to direct (“My point is that we’re heading dangerously toward a kind of segregationism in the name of morality,” says Charlie). The writing is biting and propulsive as allegiances shift and Tessa realizes she’s misjudged Wah. This confident work is sure to spark conversations. Agent: Ellen Levine; Trident Media. (Feb.)