In a small Midwestern town, two Asian American boys bond over their outcast status and a mutual love of comic books. Meanwhile, in an alternative or perhaps future universe, a team of superheroes ponder modern society during their time off. Between black-ops missions and rescuing hostages, they swap stories of artistic malaise and muse on the seemingly inescapable grip of market economics.
Gleefully toying with the conventions of the novel, Dear Cyborgs weaves together the story of a friendship’s dissolution with a provocative and timely meditation on protest. Through a series of linked monologues, a lively cast of characters explores narratives of resistance—protest art, eco-terrorists, Occupy squatters, pyromaniacal militants—and the extent to which any of these can truly withstand and influence the cold demands of contemporary capitalism. All the while, a mysterious cybernetic book of clairvoyance beckons, and trusted allies start to disappear.
Entwining comic-book villains with cultural critiques, Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs is a fleet-footed literary exploration of power, friendship, and creativity. Ambitious and knowing, it combines detective pulps, subversive philosophy, and Hollywood chase scenes, unfolding like the composites and revelations of a dream.
"[Dear Cyborgs] is stuffed with more complex ideas than many books three times its size . . . The ultimate message of Dear Cyborg remains open to interpretation, but adventurous readers will be glad they teamed up with Lim."—Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
"Wondrous . . . [Lim's] writing is confident and tranquil; he has a knack for making everyday life seem strange—or, in the case of Dear Cyborgs, for making revolution seem like the most natural thing possible. His writing is transfixing from page to page, filled with digressive meditations on small talk and social protest, superheroes, terrorism, the art world, and the status of being marginal . . . There’s an intoxicating, whimsical energy on every page. Everything from radical art to political protest gets absorbed into the rhythms of everyday life . . . [A] sense of the erratic and tangential quality of everyday life—even if it’s displaced into a bizarre, parallel world—drifts off the page, into the world you see, after reading Dear Cyborgs."—Hua Hsu, The New Yorker
"Lim's third novel might be the most delightful read you'll find all summer . . . Through seamlessly incorporated meditations on political protest and radical art, Dear Cyborgs is an effortless page turner that dares the reader to believe in the power of the imagination."—Anelise Chen, The Village Voice
"Eugene Lim's Dear Cyborgs is a novel of ideas, small, elegant ideas about art and protest, and one of the most striking literary works to emerge from the Occupy movement . . . The possible futility, complicity, and co-optation of protest are the ideas Dear Cyborgs circles around without ever giving up on the idea that resistance is essential . . . I had expected the decade's wave of protests to yield a raft of conventional social novels—some earnest, some satirical, perhaps not a few reactionary—but in Dear Cyborgs Lim has delivered something far more idiosyncratic, intricate, and useful: a novel that resists and subverts conventions at every turn."—Christian Lorentzen, New York
"I think it is rare to encounter self-aware, genre-spliced postmodernism that is this worldly and purposeful, or pop that is this utilitarian, serious and searching, or timely state-of-the-nation reckonings that are this optimistic, open, and kindhearted. The union of seeming opposites, co-existing across 163 pages is, for me, a reason to be cheerful . . . [Dear Cyborgs] is quite an achievement."—JW McCormack and Rosie Clarke, Electric Literature
"Two radically different story lines—one involving a short-lived friendship between two Asian-American boys in the Midwest, the other an ongoing philosophical debate amongst a team of superheroes—are cleverly tied together in this short, sly, unorthodox novel . . . The core relationships, whether they’re between estranged childhood friends or opinionated superhumans, are real and profoundly moving."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Reviews from Goodreads
This is in Ohio. We were eleven, twelve years old, and the teacher asked us to name the number of siblings we had. “One,” most said, or, “Two.” “Zero,” a few said. I said, “One.” Vu said, “Nine.”