I'm New Here


By Ian Russell-Hsieh

cover image of I'm New Here

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Set in the neon heat of a Taipei summer, Ian Russell-Hsieh's I'M NEW HERE explores themes of split racial identity, relationships across cultural lines, self-sabotage, and self-determination, all in prose that is whittled to the bone, that is wry, direct and undeniably fresh. Told by a character in existential freefall, this novel propels you through its pages with a propulsive flair and a confidence that are truly exciting.
Fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend, Taiwanese-British photographer Sean flies to Taipei to find oblivion. But instead of escape in his parents' homeland, all he finds is alienation. He spends his first days sleeping feverishly in an anonymous hotel bedroom and his nights chugging cheap coffee and munching on crappy doughnuts at a strip-lit doughnut bar. A chance encounter with a mysterious older man draws him into a friendship whose terms of engagement are quickly blurred, and into a world whose underpinnings seem to be shaking loose. At the same time, Sean embarks on an affair with a local girl, all the while dreaming fretfully of his ex. For every step towards connection, it seems there is a loosening elsewhere in Sean's sense of self, as the demands of the past and the present begin to take their toll. As Sean's reality comes ever more unstuck, it's clear that something's got to give.
I'm New Here