Wednesday, August 30, 2023

"Deep Roots"

Sung J. Woo’s short stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, PEN/Guernica, and Vox. He has written four novels, Deep Roots (2023), Skin Deep (2020), Love Love (2015), and Everything Asian (2009), which won the 2010 Asian Pacific American Librarians Association Literature Award. In 2022, his Modern Love essay from The New York Times was adapted by Amazon Studios for episodic television. A graduate of Cornell University with an MFA from New York University, he lives in Washington, New Jersey.

Woo applied the Page 69 Test to Deep Roots and reported the following:
There are eight characters on page 69 of my second Siobhan O'Brien mystery novel: Thomas and William (the footmen), Lady Mary (who hires Siobhan), Duke and Blink (the presumed heir and his friend/lover), Evie (the granddaughter) and her parents Lady Eve and Sir Nicholas. Wait, I forgot -- Siobhan herself is of course present, so that makes it nine characters total. Nine! That's got to be some kind of a record, right, for page 69?

As you can tell from the titles and the professions listed, Deep Roots takes place in the world of the one percent of the one percenters. As an unabashed fan of Downton Abbey, I relished at the prospect of creating my own embarrassingly opulent house and filling it with insufferably privileged inhabitants. Though this page features dinnertime conversation between the Ahn family, the key exchange is the one between Siobhan and Evie:
“So,” the young woman sitting to my left said, “you are the private investigator Grandpapa hired.”

Like the rest of the family, she, too, was on the tall side, and her face was so reminiscent of Phillip Ahn himself, especially her forehead, which was as wide as a billboard, that there was no mistaking her heredity. For someone her age—early twenties, I figured—she was dressed conservatively in a black gown that covered her neck and down to her wrists. If memory served, there was only one granddaughter in the family.

“And you must be Evie.”
This is the first time Siobhan meets Evie, but it certainly isn't the last, and her likeness to her grandfather plays a significant part in the novel. Furthermore, this page is an excellent showcasing of the ritualistic chore the Ahns go through on a daily basis for something as simple as lunch. As an outsider, Siobhan finds herself constantly pushed to her limit: the dress changes, the etiquettes, the mannered formalities. So once again, page 69 comes through.
Learn more about the book and author at Sung J. Woo's website.

The Page 69 Test: Everything Asian.

My Book, The Movie: Skin Deep.

Q&A with Sung J. Woo.

The Page 69 Test: Skin Deep.

My Book, The Movie: Deep Roots.

--Marshal Zeringue