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Briefly Listed Book Reviews | The New Yorker

Bye, Zoeyby Sarah Crossan (Little, Brown). What constitutes matter in our digital age? Writing? Swipe? How about buying an AI sex doll for eight grand and hiding it from your wife in the garage? In this entertaining novel, middle-aged narrator Dolores discovers that her husband has done just that. As Dolores’s marriage crumbles, she forms a special bond with Zoey the doll, who proves to be a better listener than her aloof husband (the aptly named anesthesiologist). Told in short scenes that intersperse the present with childhood memories, the story is as much about technology as it is about friendship and romance. Even if Zoey’s «aliveness» is a «feint,» like Hoffmann’s ETA character, Dolores offers both life-affirming company and a way to access her repressed soul.

Bypassesby Bei Dao, translated from Chinese by Jeffrey Yang (New Directions). More than a decade in the making, this book-length poem follows its acclaimed author’s years in exile following his expulsion from mainland China in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests. Dotted with dates and places of personal and historical significance—as well as encounters with friends and peers such as Allen Ginsberg and Mahmoud Darwish—the poem combines the documentary and the elusive, finding meaning in language as he «talks to tanks.» and when he captures a “sunny tablecloth” in a California kitchen. The poem, which is elegantly translated into English, exemplifies Bei Dao’s surprising imagery and logic while bringing an autobiographical immediacy to his work.


Illustrated by Rose Wong

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