The Foreigner A Novel

Francie Lin




Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Set against the Taiwanese criminal underworld, Francie Lin's debut novel is a noirish tale about family, fraternity, conscience, and the curious gulf between a man's culture and his deepest self.  Emerson Chang is a mild mannered bachelor on the cusp of forty, a financial analyst in a neatly pressed suit, a child of Taiwanese immigrants who doesn't speak a word of Chinese, and a virgin. His only real family is his mother, whose subtle manipulations have kept him close to home—all in the name of preserving an obscure idea of family and culture.

When his mother suddenly dies, Emerson sets out for Taipei to scatter her ashes, and to convey a surprising inheritance to his younger brother, Little P. Now enmeshed in the hidden community of criminals and misfits, Little P seems to be running some very shady business out of his uncle's karaoke bar, and he conceals a secret—a crime that has not only severed him from his family, but may have annihilated his conscience. Hoping to appease both the living and the dead, Emerson isn’t about to give up the inheritance until he uncovers Little P's past and saves what is left of his family.


Praise for The Foreigner

"Francie Lin's first novel, The Foreigner, is told by a 40-year-old virgin, Emerson Chang, whose weekly dinner with his Taiwanese mother is the bane (as well as the high point) of his social life . . . Lin marvelously renders the comic tragedy of Emerson's painfully terrible birthday dinner, and in doing so sets up what will turn out to be a powerful contrast to the rest of her story, one set in Taiwan's world of organized crime . . . the vivid [Taipei] settings into which Lin, a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan from 2001-2002, drops an utterly unprepared Emerson are disorienting and bleakly scary, evocative of films such as Lost in Translation and Bladerunner. Emerson is a foreigner in every sense: lost and innocent, out of his depth and speaking almost none of the language. He will need a remarkably long time to recognize the mysterious, depraved world [his brother] Little P inhabits.  Emerson is a fascinating character. He clings to Little P when Little P clearly wishes to be left alone. He carries around his mother's ashes in a purse on a string; he even sleeps with the purse. Meanwhile, breathing, interested women can't stir the least response in him . . . [Lin] demonstrates an admirable range and skill in The Foreigner. She's capable of writing both marvelous humor and scenes of utter darkness in her tale of a naive man at a complete loss for dealing with the world."—Irene Wanner, The San Francisco Chronicle
"[Lin] has much to say about the clash of East and West and the sometimes shaky bonds of family, wrapping her sly observations in an entertaining coating of ever-propulsive narrative that turns Emerson from a rich boy into a warier, sleeker, wiser man.”—The Baltimore Sun

"Chang's distinctive voice propels a strong and original plot, with horrifying revelations. Taut, smart and often funny, this novel will satisfy readers of thrillers and general fiction alike."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter One It was my birthday, my fortieth year. I am not a sentimental man, and my birthdays have always passed quietly, with a minimum of anguish and fuss, but for some reason, this year, a sense of dejection hung in my chest like a fog as I drove eastbound across the Bay Bridge to meet my mother for dinner. Rain lashed the windshield. A truck had overturned just past the 880 exit, encircled by flares. Farther on, a dog had been run over, the mangled carcass pulled off to the side and left with its golden fur matted and damp. All these things—melancholy, rain, a little accident, a
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  • Francie Lin

  • Francie Lin, a former editor at The Threepenny Review, received a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan in 2001-2002. She lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts.

  • Francie Lin Ha Nguyen




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