cover image The Partition

The Partition

Don Lee. Akashic, $27.95 (296p) ISBN 978-1-63614-031-5

Korean American writer Lee (Lonesome Lies Before Us) delivers a stylish set of erotic stories. His characters are Asian Americans who wrestle with estrangement from their homelands, alienation in the United States, and a longing for intimacy in a world of fleeting romance. In “Late in the Day,” an indie film director has a one-night stand with a girl in Chicago, only to meet her again much later in Hawaii when she is no longer glowing with youth. The title story features an androgynous academic who translates a transgressive Korean novel and then flies to Texas to meet the book’s surprisingly glamorous author. The collection ends with “Les hotels d’Alain,” a triptych of stories that detail the life of Alain Kweon, an actor who eventually becomes the owner of a successful chain of artisanal boba tea shops in San Francisco. Lee has a habit of overdoing the details, such as a superfluous explanation of the Mission District’s gentrification, but when he allows his stories to run, they offer gorgeous, psychological portraits of men and women caught in the throes of middle age. This smart collection about love and belonging will leave readers wanting more. (Apr.)