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Spring 2022 Debuts from RJFWA Winners Aamina Ahmad, Lisa Hsiao Chen & Lydia Conklin


(l-r): Aamina Ahmad, Lisa Hsiao Chen (photo: Hisayo Chen), Lydia Conklin (photo: Emily Ray Reese)


Aamina Ahmad (’17) The Return of Faraz Ali (Riverhead Books, April 2022)

“Sent back to his birthplace—Lahore’s notorious red-light district—to hush up the murder of a girl, a man finds himself in an unexpected reckoning with his past. Not since childhood has Faraz returned to the Mohalla, in Lahore’s walled inner city, where women continue to pass down the art of courtesan from mother to daughter. But he still remembers the day he was abducted from the home he shared with his mother and sister there, at the direction of his powerful father, who wanted to give him a chance at a respectable life. Now Wajid, once more dictating his fate from afar, has sent Faraz back to Lahore, installing him as head of the Mohalla police station and charging him with a mission: to cover up the violent death of a young girl. Profoundly intimate and propulsive, The Return of Faraz Ali is a spellbindingly assured first novel that poses a timeless question: Whom do we choose to protect, and at what price?”


Lisa Hsiao Chen (’18) Activities of Daily Living (W.W. Norton, April 2022)

“A lucid and moving debut novel on the interconnection between work and life, loneliness and kinship, and the projects that occupy our time. How do we take stock of a life—by what means, and by what measure? This is the question that preoccupies Alice, a Taiwanese immigrant in her late thirties. In the off-hours from her day job, Alice struggles to create a project about the enigmatic downtown performance artist Tehching Hsieh and his monumental, yearlong 1980s performance pieces. As Alice roots deeper into Hsieh’s radical use of time and his mysterious disappearance from the art world, her project starts metabolizing events from her own life. She wanders from subway rides to street protests, loses touch with a friend, and becomes a caretaker for her stepfather, a Vietnam vet whose dream of making traditional Chinese furniture dissolved in alcoholism and dementia. Moving between present-day and 1980s New York City, with detours to Silicon Valley and the Venice Biennale, Activities of Daily Living is a startlingly precise, vivid, and tender examination of the passage of time.”


Lydia Conklin (’18) Rainbow Rainbow: Stories (Catapult, May 2022)

“In this exuberant, prize-winning collection, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming characters seek love and connection in hilarious and heartrending stories that reflect the complexity of our current moment. A nonbinary writer on the eve of top surgery enters into a risky affair during the height of COVID. A lesbian couple enlists a close friend as a sperm donor, plying him with a potent rainbow-colored cocktail. A lonely office worker struggling with their gender identity chaperones their nephew to a trans YouTube convention. And in the depths of a Midwestern winter, a sex-addicted librarian relies on her pet ferrets to help resist a relapse at a wild college fair. Capturing both the dark and lovable sides of the human experience, Rainbow Rainbow establishes debut author Lydia Conklin as a fearless new voice for their generation.”


See more news about our award winners.



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