Immigrant, Socialite, Magician: Announcing Nghi Vo’s Gatsby-Inspired Novel-Length Debut

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce that Ruoxi Chen has acquired Nghi Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful, a magical reimagining of The Great Gatsby told through the eyes of a queer, Asian-American Jordan Baker as the American immigrant narrative that Gatsby always should have been. The two-book deal, for North American rights, was brokered by Diana Fox at Fox Literary.

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

 

Said author Nghi Vo:

The Chosen and the Beautiful stars Jordan Baker, who was something of a literary enigma to me when I first read The Great Gatsby in high school. In Fitzgerald’s tale of ambition and wealth, Jordan’s clever, fascinating, a little mean, and completely indispensable to the way the story runs. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering what her motivations and her dreams might be, and then last year, I got to figure it out. And then I added flying spells, deals with the devil, diaspora, trans-racial adoption, and Vietnamese paper-cutting magic and gave it a good rattle in a cocktail shaker. Well, Jordan was never good at playing by the rules, either.

Luli, the narrator of Siren Queen, would probably find Jordan to be incredibly spoiled and reckless, but then, Luli’s a Chinese-American actress trying to earn her star in a Hollywood run off fairyland rules—no one works harder than she does. All she wants is her name in lights, the house in the Palisades, the pick of all the scripts, and maybe winning the girl wouldn’t be so bad either. The question, however, is what will she sacrifice for her shot at fame and fortune, and which girl should she be winning? Luli and Jordan are about as different as they can get, but they’re both twentieth-century American girls. It’s just that their America looks very different from ours…until you take a second look.

Said editor Ruoxi Chen:

Nghi Vo, who has already proven that she can deliver epic fantasy in 22,000 words, clearly believes in going big or going home, because she’s breaking into the novel format by tackling one of the giants of American literature. In The Chosen and the Beautiful, she decolonizes Gatsby with beauty and verve and real magic. If you love Fitzgerald, let this book make him anew for you. If you love Fitzgerald, but have felt excluded by his narratives, here is a fantastical vision—of class, identity, and the bargains and sacrifices the marginalized have always made in America—that will come for your heart.

 

The Chosen and the Beautiful will arrive from Tordotcom Publishing in 2021. Siren Queen, set in a fantasy pre-code Hollywood about a young Chinese-American actress coming of age and forced to play monsters on screen in a world where monsters are real, will follow in 2022.


 

 

Nghi Vo was born in central Illinois, and she retains a healthy respect of and love for corn mazes, scarecrows, and fifty-year floods. These days, she lives on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is less a lake than an inland sea that she is sure is just biding its time. Her short fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, PodCastle, Lightspeed, and Fireside. Her short story, “Neither Witch nor Fairy” made the 2014 Tiptree Award Honor List. Nghi mostly writes about food, death, and family, but sometimes detours into blood, love, and rhetoric. She believes in the ritual of lipstick, the power of stories, and the right to change your mind.

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