What does Immigrant Fiction and Dystopian Fiction have in common? You might be surprised! Award-winning Riverhead Books author Chang-rae Lee shares how is recently published book, ON SUCH A FULL SEA, reveals the dystopian nature of the immigrant story.
I wasn’t intent on creating a “dystopian” tale while I was writing On Such a Full Sea. This might seem hard to believe given the society I describe in the novel: a future world beset by environmental contamination and rigidly partitioned by class, where the ultra-rich live in securely gated ‘villages’, workers spend their entire lives in cloistered production settlements, and the citizens of the wild and unregulated ‘open counties’ that surround them are left to survive wholly on their own. Certainly when I was young I was an admirer of classic novels of dystopia such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, but in fact, in writing this book I didn’t want any models of the genre to guide me. I was simply working the way I have always worked, which is to imagine characters who find themselves at a pivotal moment in their lives, characters who are questioning their place in their families and communities and, in turn, that community’s place in the wider world. In this regard, I consider On Such a Full Sea to be more of an extension of my previous novels than any radical departure. Continue reading →
YA dystopian books sure have been on my mind lately. As I’m waiting for the CATCHING FIRE movie to come out and I’m reading through the last installment of the DIVERGENT series, I can’t help but wonder about the secret ingredients of a successful YA dystopian series.
What you need, of course, is a great story. The stakes in the genre are higher by default, because of the overwhelming menace of the totalitarian dystopian society. In that sense, YA dystopian books are like regular YA on steroids: the protagonist needs to overcome tremendous hurdles and dangers, and often experiences the death of a loved one. The possibility of discovery–and punishment–by the big-brother government overshadows our character’s journey through the book and keeps us on our toes.
And one of the best ways to reach out to your audience and give them a taste of the series is to come up with a great title and cover design!