Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"American Panda"

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. She currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out.

Chao applied the Page 69 Test to her debut novel, American Panda, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“Sorry, I’ve got to go,” I blurted out, checking my wrist for the time even though there was no watch there.

I wasn’t ready to tell him. Talking about my secret dreams brought them closer to reality, which could never be. And that included him. No Japanese boys, I heard in my head, my mother’s words like nails on a chalkboard.

“Where’re you headed? I’ll walk with you,” he offered.

“Sorry. I’m in a hurry.” I was already one foot out the door.

“When will I see you again?”

“When there’s another student in distress, needing saving,” I joked, because it was easier.

“Then I’ll be sure to start telling the MIT sex joke constantly. Maybe incite some fights over whether the Logs or the Chorallaries are better—or maybe just commit all-out blasphemy by saying a capella sucks.”

I faux gasped, and we shared one of those conspiratorial looks that happens when you find that rare person who shares your sense of humor.

I punched him on the arm lightly (because I’m awkward) and left promptly (because I’m a coward). It was even harder for me to do than return to my chlamydia-infested room.
This passage shows my main character’s sense of humor, her awkwardness, her playful banter with her crush, and the parental pressures she’s struggling with. The interaction also shows how even though the main character, Mei, has feelings for Darren, she’s actively trying to keep a distance because of her parents’ disapproval.

The passage also has a hint of her squeamishness with germs, which plays into her story because her parents want her to be a doctor. The MIT setting is also featured here, with a glimpse into campus life, which is also a big part of the book (hence the MIT Great Dome pictured on the cover).

The only two pieces of the book missing in this passage are examples of Chinese traditions and Mei’s relationship with her mother, which are both integral parts of the book.
Visit Gloria Chao's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue