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6.11.2010

Book Review: Hello Kitty Is Dead!

Hello Kitty Must Die
by Angela Choi
9781935562023

"Everyone has to die," is the mantra of this debut concerning culture, Kurt Cobain, missing hymens, and multiple murders. Tagged as Fight Club meets The Joy Luck Club, this is perhaps the most refreshing book you'll read all year, and the first of its kind in Asian American lit: a transgressive, satrical meditation on femininity and culture.

28 year-old Fiona Yu, hates Hello Kitties, Asian girls who fall into stereotypes of both their culture and the American culture. To prove it, she attempts to take her own virginity, thereby sticking it to her traditional parents, while at the same time, proving that she is her own woman: she needs no man. Indeed, Fiona proves to be an asexual character (an amoeba is what she is called); she is an outsider in a world of matchmakers, where she wants nothing do with other people. Enter Sean Killroy, an old friend who after years in juvenile hall for burning a girl's hair, reunites with his best friend in the doctor's office (his doctor's office) and together they make the perfect match: two misanthropes and a world full of people, and there's a lot of God's work to do.

What follows is a hilarious killing spree that at the same time satirizes Asian culture, American culture, people culture, femininity, and norms of every type. It becomes absurd and unbelievable at times (there's murder attempts with Snickers bars, crabbing, and of course the first scene of self virginity taking), but like Palahniuk, one of her influences, Choi makes sure to makes the type of left field absurd that is the cornerstone of transgressive lit: by picturing stuff that can't possibly happen, Choi points to the stuff that is happening: the power and tragedy of norms, the absurdity of excess, love as culturally constructed. While not all feminists will agree with Choi and while she can come off as anti-Asian at times (Yu says she doesn't like Asian guys because of small dicks, but then again, dicks go to waste on her; again, she's an amoeba) as a writer Choi is funny and pitch perfect, writing the type of debut you stay up all night to read. A refreshing new title in Asian Am lit, feminist lit, transgressive lit, crime lit--Just read it.

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