Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rachel DeWoskin's REPEAT AFTER ME Reviewed in Critical Pages

Margaret Black of Critical Pages review's Rachel DeWoskin's debut novel Repeat After Me: "Four years ago, Rachel DeWoskin bounced onto the literary scene with a funny, insightful memoir about a time just out of college when she worked for a PR firm in Beijing. Much to her surprise and delight, she was cast to play the part of an American temptress in what became a wildly popular Chinese TV soap opera called Foreign Babes in Beijing. While DeWoskin’s book touched on many serious subjects, the plot of the soap opera and her hilarious experiences while filming were what swept readers along.

In Repeat After Me, DeWoskin has boldly sought to transmute her knowledge of China and her very considerable writing talent into fiction, this time by confecting a cross-cultural love story between Aysha Silvermintz, a very troubled young American English teacher in New York City, and Da Ge, an an irritable, volatile young pupil, whose father has sent him away from Beijing to protect him from the fallout of the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989.

DeWoskin has down pat the many confusions and surprises of cross- cultural difference and misunderstanding, but she also succeeds in making them individual. The author has assembled a rich collection of characters, most of them beautifully realized. More than a love story about a man and a woman, Repeat After Me is really a paeon to friendship among women and to an ideal of family ties, manifest in this story between Aysha, her mother, her daughter, and Da Ge’s father. The novel may lack the humor of Foreign Babes, and it avoids all the political threat that was just under the surface of that memoir, but it’s a well-told complex story of interesting people."

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