cover image Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Matthew Salesses. Little A, $24.95 (318p) ISBN 978-1-50-394326-1

An alcoholic, depressed Korean American man is convinced he is disappearing as a KKK-endorsed candidate runs for president in the captivating latest from Salesses (The Hundred-Year Flood). Three years after Matt Kim’s wife and daughter left him and he’s unable to sell his novel, Matt struggles to hold onto his sense of self. He explains to his girlfriend, Yumi, that as an Asian man he feels invisible in public. At the butcher shop, he’s ignored by the man at the counter. In a row of empty urinals, men stand right next to him. Worse than feeling invisible, he fears two white “dudebros” in red hats are following him. Asked if they see him, they respond by calling him “Charlie Chan.” Then, after getting drunk, Yumi introduces herself as Sandra and shows Matt a photo of herself with her boyfriend, Matt Chung, whom she says disappeared. “The boyfriend in the photo was me,” Matt realizes, and proceeds to investigate Chung’s disappearance, while the KKK-backed candidate paves the way to victory with racist statements. The use of surrealism to interrogate the erasure of Asian American bodies and the trauma of being disappeared by whiteness is heightened by angled takes on recent history (the red hats worn by the men following Matt say “something about this country we all lived in, that it wasn’t great anymore”). Salesses’s tale on the nature of existence triumphs with literary trickery. Agent: Ayesha Pande, Pande Literary. (Aug.)